Q. Re: Pool rules: Its unfair for homeowners who pay fees to be belittled and berated in order to make kids at the pool comfortable. How is a man in a Speedo more creepy than pre-teen girls in barely-there bikinis? As a childless woman who dreads going to the HOA pool because children make swimming laps impossible, I think Pool Mom needs to agitate for an adults only swim time and then make an issue only if Bananaman continues his so called perverted behavior.
A: Every community pool should have designated swim times for adults. I’m betting his pool does, too. But maybe Bananaman prefers kiddie time. We just don’t know enough to wade into a dispute about whether this guy is marching around with a erection—but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt that this young mother is able to distinguish between a skimpy suit and a guy with boner.
Q. Re: Raising an Only Child (Not by Choice): I went through the same thing (had one child and then several miscarriages). This all happened within a two-year period of 9/11 (I live in NYC—Brooklyn) and my mother dying unexpectedly. I became increasingly upset and scared to death that my son was going to die. Sometimes the only way I got through the day was reassuring myself that if something did happen to him, I would just kill myself to stop the pain. As you can imagine, I was debilitated. I realized I needed help and went to see a psychiatrist and went on anti-depressants with a diagnosis of PTSD. I still become overwhelmed occasionally by irrational fears (my son is now a teenager in NYC … that’s stress right there!) but I can usually tell it escalates because of too much other stress and can put it in perspective.
A: Thank you for this. I hope the young mother reads it and takes heart that this fear is common and can be managed.
Q. Two Moms for My Kids: My ex-husband and I adopted two little girls during our 8-year marriage. Lots of stress, anxiety, faith, hope, and support went into the adoptions (CPS, foster care, etc.). Fast-forward to not even the one-year anniversary and he’s remarried and pushing for our daughters to call the new wife “Mama K.” I want my daughters to love and respect their new step mom, but their being 3 and 5, I find it highly detrimental to force this upon them. My 3-year-old told me last night she has “two moms.” I’m having a very hard time dealing with the fact that a woman, who has no idea the ordeal I went through to become their mother, would even consider allowing this—especially one whose own children live with their father and stepmother. What’s wrong with just a first name? I would never try to give them a “second dad.” Am I overreacting or is this blatant disrespect?
A: I understand your pain, and I disagree with your husband. If you have a decent relationship with him, you can say what you said here: You want your girls to love and respect their stepmother, but you are asking that “Mom” be reserved for you, and that it’s no disrespect if they call her Kandy. But you also have to accept you can’t control this, and the most important thing is for you to not be upset by it. That requires that you dig deep and understand that whatever the nomenclature, your children are going to absolutely know that only you are their mother. I had a friend who went through something very similar. She and her husband split when their two kids were very young and he had impregnated his soon-to-be second wife. He wanted her children to refer to the new wife as “Mom” and one day her young son came to her sobbing saying he felt so guilty for doing this and for getting his stepmother a Mother’s Day card. She dried his tears, reassured him and told him she knew how much he loved her, that she knew he knew who was his mom and who was his stepmom, and she didn’t want him to be upset by being nice to his stepmother. She was a real model for handling this kind of painful situation, and of course her kids—now teenagers—adore her.
Q. Re: Pool Rules: My husband who is on the computer next to me wants to know if the pool will also talk to all the girl/women who are wearing revealing bikinis and lots of cleavage. Our friend’s 15-year-old wears quite provocative beach wear—almost a thong, can see her entire buttocks, and size-D cleavage squeezed into an eenie-weenie bikini (not white though ...). Why is this not equally questioned? The boys surely are affected by this look around them as much as the man in a thong. I suppose if the man is just swimming and not leering or speaking inappropriately to the girls/women at the pool, he needs to be left alone or there needs to be rules put in place for both men and women (boys and girls) banning revealing swimwear for all—this will be challenging to monitor though.
A: Every pool gets to make its own rules, and a community has community standards, which as I mentioned will be different in different places. The original letter writer didn’t love the thong, but her big issue was the condition of the shlong. That needs to be addressed. But if a pool is getting complaints that thong-wear for both men and women is too skimpy, then management can post rules on appropriate attire. I agree enforcing these will be awkward, and probably spotty.
Q. Stuck? I am 66 and my husband 72. His mother is 93, healthy, and in a retirement community that she selected after being widowed three years ago. We have one grandchild, age 2, in whose life we want to be very involved and as hands-on as possible while we are still able to do so. Neither of us is ill, but nor do we have tons of energy. MIL wants us to stay in her community for the rest of her life. We want to move to our grandchild’s community. MIL is not going to want to move with us. We would only be 100 miles away and could visit MIL (we don’t see her that much as it is now). She is going to have a fit if we move, but we really do want to. Are we horrible people? Do you have any advice for dealing with MIL?
A: First, before all the generations get in motion, I’m assuming you’ve checked in with your grown child and have gotten an enthusiastic go-ahead for your own move. If so, then I agree you have to do it. Your mother-in-law is in her early 90s, but centenarians are one of the fastest growing demographic groups, and you just can’t miss your grandchild’s early years by being on a kind of death watch for your mother-in-law. Do raise with her the possibility of her moving to a retirement community near your new home. Perhaps she would consider it given that it would allow her access to her entire family. But if she just can’t bear the thought of a move, you have to deal with her lovingly and forthrightly. One of her biggest concerns is going to be abandonment. So talk to her about what a reasonable schedule would be for visiting. And once you establish that, stick with it. If your mother-in-law is fit enough, maybe sometimes you can pick her up and have her spend a weekend with you seeing her extended family. If she can’t get over his distress about your move, have a social worker who specializes in geriatric issues mediate some of your discussions. You are not horrible people to try to care, as best you can, for the oldest and youngest in your lives.
Check out Dear Prudence's book recommendations in the Slate Store.
TODAY IN SLATE
The World’s Politest Protesters
The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.
The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans
The Fashion World Has Made “Feminist” a Meaningless Label
The Feds Have Declared War on New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google
These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative
Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.