Carolyn Hax Live: Not ganaching my teeth (Friday, Feb. 13)

Feb 13, 2015

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax chats live every Friday at noon to answer any questions you might have about this strange train we call life.

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Hi everyone. Carolyn is running a few minutes late. No, I don't know exactly how many minutes late, but I'll keep you updated. Go grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable, and we'll get started pretty soon. Thanks for your patience!

UPDATE: We'll plan to start at 12:30. Grab a brownie to go with that cup of coffee, and see you back here then.

Let's do the Hokey Pokey! (People need to get up anyway!)

Uh, hey, whatever you did just now, Jess, completely deleted the question I'd been working on! No big deal but FYI.

Oh man, sorry. When the chat switches from not live to live it also refreshes the page. Sounds like you got caught in the crosshairs. Hope you remember what you were going to say :/

Finally! Hello. So happy to be here after 35 minutes of banging my head against my desk.

Hi Carolyn, I'm the wife who submitted the "Criticism vs. Healthy Discussion of Issues" question last week. I actually have felt and said that this situation is bull***, and that I feel devalued when he doesn't do his share of the work. There have been short term "eureka moments" but no long-term effects. Lower down in the chat you mentioned a gray area, such as when one partner has ADHD and it clicked. My husband has ADHD, but I have never felt that it has impacted our relationship before so it didn't even occur to me that he's exhibiting symptoms. I did some googling and everything I read about ADHD and marriage mirrored my experiences exactly. For instance, a Parent/Child dynamic is definitely starting to emerge in our marriage, which leads to me feeling like I'm constantly nagging or criticizing. What I've taken away from this is that we need counseling, and soon, in order to avoid falling into really bad patterns. Thanks for taking my question.

You're welcome, and I'm happy to hear about your eureka moment. If you're looking for deeper reading on the topic, you might like the work of Edward Hallowell. Very positive (he has ADD himself) and pragmatic.

I just found out today that I have made it through to the final round interview for a highly competitive job that is closer to home, (much) better paying, and less stressful (yay!!). I'm feeling fairly confident and excited. My problem: my current employer has generally treated me fairly crappily and one of the results of this treatment is that I have been doing two people's jobs for the past two months while my boss has been on maternity leave. If I were to accept this new position, I would likely leave my employer in a VERY tight spot until my boss returns in April. I don't know that I trust my director enough to confide that I am (seriously!) considering leaving between now and then. But, I don't want to be a jerk. What do I owe them? Should I push for a 3 week notice? I feel so selfish, but the stress and frustration and overwhelming work load and unpaid overtime at my current job is impacting my health and my marriage...

1. Get the new position.

2. Accept the new position.

3. Notify your current employer that you have accepted a new position, and that your last day is [two weeks from notification date]. 

If your employer doesn't want to be in this VERY tight spot, than it/he/she might want to consider doing a better job of running the business.

Good luck, and for the love of two jobs with one salary, don't go counting your chickens. 

 

Dear Carolyn: My fiancé grew up in a close knit community with a lot of extended family. They frequently helped each other out quite a bit with projects, moving, or car repair. I grew up with family scattered throughout the country, so my family handled this ourselves or we hired people if necessary. It is common in my fiancés life for people to have painting or moving parties. I am not a fan of this custom, but I attend about half of them out of a sense of community. We are moving into a town house in two weeks and already his family and friends are planning to swing by and help. I realize they have good intentions, but I would actually rather tackle these projects myself or with a neutral person. When his parents found out we hired movers they were actually offended. But from my perspective, I would much rather ask a stranger to move my couch 3 times then my fiancés cousin. If something breaks, there is also a clear way to remedy it. My fiancé thinks we should pick a few projects for them to help on because they want to so badly. But I think that it is our house, and I don't really think it is our responsibility to move in and paint in a way that makes other people happy. My fiancé told me his family thinks I come off as cold about this issue; but I think his family comes off pushy and meddlesome. How do I reconcile these differences with my fiancé? Do I just hand them a paintbrush and bite my tongue? Or should they recognize that doing something different is our business?

Your fiance already handed you the perfect way to reconcile these differences, by picking a few projects that you invite everyone to help you finish. 

You just don't like that because you don't want anyone touching your house, so I suspect any way I suggest you "reconcile" will also be shot down if it involves my not takingyour side completely.

Here's the thing. It's your house, yes, but it's also your fiance's. You and he have equal say in how you make it into a home. You're thinking paint but he's thinking people and love--and the part about its not being your "responsibility to move in and paint in a way that makes other people happy" says you completely totally utterly and at a cosmic level miss the whole part about how much people--in general and these people in particular-- mean to your fiance. And you're giving heavy ammo to your relatives-to-be who judge you as cold.

I am as fussy about my personal space as anyone so I am not unsympathetic to wanting my walls painted the way I want them painted. But if your fiance were on board with your doing things the family-free way, he would have drawn his boundary along the same path as yours and he would have called off the family dogs. Then, if the family kept pressing from there, then I'd be echoing you on the "pushy and meddlesome."

But as long as your fiance wants to keep living his life as a series of modified barn-raisings, then that's as much his prerogative as your hired-help-only stance. 

So, either sit down, plan out a couple of projects for which you think you can welcome a stampede of happy helpers, set an invasion date and greet them at the door with lemonade and brownies--or give this man as your choice of life partner a very, very hard rethink. He's a community kind of guy, and it's your responsibility to make -him- happy, just as much as it is his to please you. Make sure you're ready for what that means.

 

I am divorced and newly dating as is my ex. We both live on an island (think Bermuda, Bahamas, come on pretty mama). When married, we went to our favourite restaurants, bars, hotels, and other places. What I like in terms of going out hasn’t changed since the divorce, but it feels weird going on a date to a restaurant that I celebrated my anniversary at or frequented with my ex. I had the sense to ask him where he’s taking his date on Valentine’s so we don’t end up at the same small restaurant, which would be very uncomfortable for all involved. Is this just a matter of avoiding certain places, giving it time? I’m not sure, especially if my date asks me if I've been somewhere with my ex before.

I think this is just a matter of pushing through the weirdness until you don't think about it as much anymore, or at least don't feel as upset by it. The more you hop around trying not to land anywhere meaningful, the bigger the issue becomes.

It's also a matter of clearing this up with your date, if the have-you-been-here-before queries are more than casual curiosity: "It's an island. It's safe to assume I've been everywhere with my ex before. I could dwell on that, or I could concentrate on making old places seem new."

So my ex is at the airport waiting to pick up his overseas visitor as I wait to pick up the person I'm dating. We saw each other and laughed. He asked what should we do? And he thanked me for keeping the kids on his weekend.

Ah--see answer above. And, a more general "What should we do?" answer is just roll with it. Laughing is as good a start as you can get. 

I probably underplayed this in my original answer: Do not let any new dates' insecurities mess with your mind or your plan to keep things civil. The best thing you can do to keep life around your ex from getting weird or strained is to keep your distance from people who feel weird or strained around your ex. Date a mensch--that solves most of your problems before you even have them.

My husband and both sons have ADHD and one thing that really helps me is to write my husband (or kids) a list of what they need to do. I resisted doing this for a while with my husband (seemed maternal), but OMG it has made our married life run smoothly and no more nagging! He really appreciates it, and it is helpful to me, too.

My son is in fourth grade and for the last five years (since his preschool days), I've happily agreed to bring treats to class celebrations when my turn has rolled around, as I'm an avid home baker. The last time I took decorated cupcakes in, my son's principal took me aside and asked me to bring in "less elaborate" treats as it was making the other parents feel bad about their own baking skills. I couldn't believe it. Are the parents really thinking that because they can't pipe frosting or buy themed wrappers or stuff a cupcake with chocolate ganache that their kids shouldn't see pretty cupcakes ever? Today was my turn again, so I took in much more subdued cupcakes- just chocolate with vanilla frosting and heart-shaped sprinkles and a few parents still have me dirty looks. I'm convinced they just want me to buy cookies at a supermarket on the way in, but I can't bring myself to do that when I enjoy making these treats so much and my son is so excited to pass them out. How should I deal with this? Do I really have to give up creating special treats? Can I go back to more elaborate stuff and say "boo to you" since it seems nothing short of Milanos will make these people feel better about themselves?

Sounds to me as if you and the fourth-grade parents need to do some emergency, dukes-down bridge-building. "Hi, Parent 1 and 2, how are you guys doing? Would you like an underachieving cupcake?"

Maybe you've just fallen on the wrong side of a few weenies among the parents of this class, the very ones who threw shade at your heart-shaped sprinkles; certainly it's not unheard of for weenies to join forces and wreak outsize havoc. But, people generally don't get pissy over cupcakes or [other mind-bendingly petty point of contention here]--they get pissy for other reasons, and they recruit proxies, including defenseless baked goods. 

My practical advice is to just make whatever cupcakes you feel like making, since fourth grade is almost the end of the line there anyway--but also do some thinking about how you interact with your fellow parents. Never hurts to be friendly, even deliberately so, especially when you're not feeling the love in return.

As someone four years divorced who still crosses the street when I see him coming, I really sincerely admire your positive attitude. Maybe I need to live on an island.

Hi Carolyn, Love the chats. (Online only, please.) I got lucky - I'm very photogenic. To my mother, this means that I should be a model. When I was a kid/teen, that was my greatest dream. And I gave it a shot. But I was always "too short" so despite a few promising gigs, it went nowhere. I'm pushing 30 now and have no desire to be a model anymore, and couldn't anyway due to my (literal) short comings, age, and weight (not over weight but not size 0-2). However, anytime my mom sees a picture of me, especially from friend's recent weddings, she will pester me non-stop about how "you should be a model, seriously! call an agent! Get some head shots! I'm not just saying this cause you're my daughter!" And it doesn't stop there. She will just keep talking on and on and on about this. It frustrates the [bleep] out of me! It not only reminds me of a "failed" dream, but also my current frustration with my weight/fitness, and no one likes to remember they're "too old" for something (despite that being ridiculous). I've tried changing the subject ("yeah it's a good picture. Remember at that wedding when X happened?"), I've tried expressing my disinterest ("Yes, despite all my smarts I should simply pose for photos/It's not for me anymore, I love my job"), and honesty ("Hey, mom, I know you mean it as a compliment, but all it does is remind me of how it didn't work out and leaves me feeling frustrated"). And it doesn't matter because the next good picture of me she'll start again. I feel like her desire to have me be a model is less about me and more about her living vicariously through me, or affirming her own looks via mine. Is there an approach I'm missing? A way to make this clear to her that this topic is closed?

"Mom, this is the last time I'm going to say this: It bothers me when you bring up modeling. The subject is closed for me. When you start in on it again, I will leave without comment." Then do it. That's the way you close a door.

How your mother deals with that is up to her. I have no doubt that what you say is true, that she's not complimenting you so much as she's seeking validation for herself--and for that reason she probably won't take it well when you do shut the door. However, if she defends herself by saying she's just giving you a compliment, then you can say if her goal is to be nice to you then the best way she can achieve that is respect your request to give the you-should-be-a-model thing a rest.

There's also the simple bypass of not looking at pictures with your mom.

As you know, there's just so much you can do to change someone else's behavior. In addition to physically removing yourself from rooms or phone calls in which your mom natters on about modeling, it would also help to try to figure out ways to help you be more accepting of yourself. Past and present. Clearly you are beautiful. Just because it is not a beauty that fit in the model mold doesn't mean that your beauty let you down, or that you let you down by turning 30 and filling out a bit.

Finally, since every day is better with this movie in it, watch "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Look to Ash, the son who feels like a disappointment, for the best cinematic response ever to parental pressure: "I'm just gonna put dirt in my ears. Ow... That's better. I can't hear you now, but keep talking."

Dear Carolyn: Right now there are 4 kids under the age of 3 in my family. Once a month, my parents like to have their 4 kids and grandkids over for dinner, which is a nice tradition in general. But the past few dinners have been overwhelmingly focused on the kids. I would try to initiate conversation with one of my siblings or their spouse, and we would talk very briefly and then their attention would drift to a child. Most of the conversation around the dinner table was focused on the kids. When I try to introduce current events or entertainment, they are discussed very briefly, or have a connection to kids somehow. I love my nieces and nephew, but these meals have become somewhat of a chore. I am single and not dating anybody seriously enough to bring with. Any tips from you or yours readers on how to get through this phase?

I'll gladly throw it out to the nutterati. I suggest a few different coping strategies: 

1. Don't go to every single one, unless you want to or unless you decide it's worth it to you as a long-term investment in goodwill. Going every other month or skipping every third reduces the chore in the most basic way possible. Explain to your parents that you get why they do this, and you want to do your part to stay close to everyone and know these nieces and nephews, you just want to opt out occasionally.

2. Lower your expectations to 0 when you do go. You will not have any satisfying adult conversations. You will not finish many sentences. You will have little interest in and little to add to the topics that do get discussed.

3. Set a different goal that you can achieve. Do you want to ... give your tired siblings a hand? Pitch in more with the dinner so that your parents can focus more on the kids? Get on the floor with the kids and play with them?

The last is not on everyone's list of fun ways to spend and evening, but sometimes it's worth it--so you can learn how to make it fun, or can create a foundation for when they're more capable of holding up their half of a conversation, or can stockpile some goodwill with your sibs for if/when you have your own kids under 3 someday.

I'll post other ideas as they come in.

Or you could tell your mother that a model has to be at least 5'7" (or whatever it is) and, as you aren't anywhere near that, no one even consider hiring you. That's it mom, game over. Then walk away.

You should be happy you are allowed to bring cupcakes at all. My children's school does not allow ANY food item to be brought in to the classrooms! Not even for holidays! For example, when the class list came home for Valentine's day, it specifically mentioned that food items attached to Valentine's cards are stricly prohibited, and suggested instead sticker or pencils. I can not begin to tell you how many penciles we have accumulated...

I am deeply--nay, profoundly--grateful for the food ban at my kids' school.

--Not Ganaching My Teeth

 

Better an accumulation of pencils than the crapstream that flowed from the pre-K/K my kids went to. I finally wrote an anguished letter to the principal about it, asking for a cease-cupcake. Instead of sending it, though, I sent the kids somewhere else. At the time it seemed easier and I'm not sure I was wrong.

I live in a big city with tons of places to go. On one of my early dates with a BF, we went to a very elegant restaurant/club. He said, "Hey, I think this is the table we had the last time we came, isn't it?" I had never been there before and said so. He insisted, no don't you remember, the band was _____. I said, "NO, this is the first time *I* have ever been here." After a couple repetitions he managed to catch on and looked so mortified I couldn't help laughing. It became a standing joke between us, with him asking nervously if we had been to a place before and me saying on various occasions, "No, that must have been your other girlfriend." But now we have been married 12 years so instead I say "No, that must have been your other wife." :D

Carolyn and readers - two weeks notice is a courtesy; not a legal requirement. Remember most of us are employed at will meaning we may be terminated in the next five minutes without warning. Thus us giving two weeks notice is a kindness we were taught that is often not reciprocated. The LW doesn't "owe" her boss this much - for instance if the new employer would want her to start Monday...and she is ready to move on on such short notice

(No location, please!) Hey Carolyn: Longtime reader, first time poster here with a query: My best friend, who is a successful, savvy single woman, came to visit at Christmas. In addition to her generous presents to my kids, she gifted my husband and I with a bounty of high-end gourmet foodstuffs that I never would have splurged on for myself. I was so excited that I planned a big dinner around her food gifts. As I prepared dinner and opened one of the items, I happened to see that the expiration date read “Best Before April 2013”. I was horrified at how expired the food was and immediately checked her other gifts. Long story short, all her items had expired anywhere between 1-2 years ago and on closer inspection, several were actually dusty. Some were obviously part of larger sets that had been partially used. My guess is that she simply walked into her well-appointed pantry and “gifted” all the items she realized she was never going to use. However, since we have children and my health is precarious (she knows this), if we had consumed any of her food, it would have been a VERY bad day for our entire family. (Think hospital visits). She has been asking again lately how we are enjoying her food gifts. (I did send her an overall thank you note, fwiw). Should I say anything to her about the serious health implications of her very expired gifts (esp for kids) and that is why we threw them out? My guess is that if I admit to discarding her food on health grounds, she will be extremely embarrassed, and would likely cease contact for a long time. She has done that with other people in the past. And honestly, I have no desire to put her on the spot. On the other hand, she nearly made us all seriously ill. As a wa-a-y distant second place, I'm a bit hurt that I warranted gifts that were "food poisoning wrapped in bows". How would you handle her continual inquiries that keep on well into February?

She sounds like an odd duck--gives a gift of expired food off her pantry shelves, but asks about it all the time? Wants to know how you liked it, presses for feedback, but would go silent for months if you didn't give her the answer she was hoping to hear? 

I mean, a regular duck might give a bad or rushed gift occasionally, and/or fail to check expiration dates (pretty common, actually), but then the follow-up protocol on that is -never to mention the half-***ed gift again.- Amirite?

So, seems to me you handle the gift generally, and based entirely on how you want to handle the duck herself. Would you like this friendship to continue without disruption, because you love her, eccentricities and all? "It's all gone! Thanks again." CHANGE SUBJECT.

If you want this off your chest, or believe she wants a straight answer, or if she corners you so hard you feel forced into a bigger lie than you're willing to tell: "Many of the jars were expired, unfortunately--you might want to alert the store that sold them to you." 

Not much else to do about it, except keep checking those dates.

Hi there, been feeling a little unmoored lately as a new parent. I'm just having a hard time figuring out if my responses to things are overreactions. For example, I opted to skip hanging out with a friend who had a runny nose, in the off chance I might get sick (and then get the 3 mo. old baby sick). She seemed kind of put off because she felt she was just run down, but I didn't want to risk it. Plus, I do things like ride the bus with the baby, and she thought that was riskier. As a parent, I want very much to strike a balance between protecting my child & not being the parent that overreacts to every small thing. But, I'm having trouble finding that line since I don't know what is small and what isn't! Any thoughts on making these kinds of decisions and then feeling confident about them instead of guilty?

Some parents of new-new babies can get too protective, and some runny noses are no worse than riding public transportation, and once your baby is old enough in the pediatrician's eyes, exposure to regular, day-to-day life is better for a child's immune system than living in a germ-free zone. However: What runny-nosed friend gets upset about being asked to keep her sickness away from a 3-month-old? "She thought [riding the bus] was riskier"? 

You would have felt confident about this if your friend hadn't pushed back. 

For what it's worth, you will always have a little trouble finding where the line is on any number of things, from head colds to cupcakes :) to social media use. It's a fact of parenthood that the only time you're SURE you have it figured out is when you're opining about the way other people need to raise their kids. Just do your best and admit when you're unsure and, where possible, seek out people who are forgiving of trials and errors.

I grew up in the Midwest and we always called adults Mr./Mrs./Miss Lastname. We now live in the South (military family) and the thing down here is to have kids call adults Mr./Miss. Firstname. This feels too informal to us, and we would prefer our kids use the Mr./Mrs./Miss Lastname construction (with the exception of close family friends who are just Firstname). I would think it's my choice to have my kids use Mrs. Lastname but by that logic the other mom could have her kids use Miss. Firstname for me, but to me that is not super respectful. (it's not flat out disrespectful, it just seems...informal) Being military, we are in the position where moving frequently means a constantly rotating set of people in our lives, so this is something that comes up often. Any suggestions? Is this one of those symptoms of adults wanting to seem hip and cool to their kids, or a regional thing, or something that will correct as kids get older and we have less toddlers around (it just seems like such a preschool thing to use the Miss. Firstname construct)? Signed, Just tell me if I'm being crotchety. Also get off my lawn.

Two words: code switch. I urge you to consider teaching that concept to your kids. There are things you talk about at home but not in public, among close friends but not with strangers, among peers but not authority figures, etc. 

And, when in the South, it -is- respectful to use the Miss Firstname construct--respectful of local custom. And it's respectful to be gracious when children call you Miss Firstname, too.

Then, when you move somewhere else, observe and process and decide how to adjust. What a great opportunity you have with the relocations that come with military life. Your kids can become fluent in many customs, or at least keen observers--something they'd likely do anyway, just by being kids, but if you name it and attach value to it, it can really help build up their concept of who they are.

Granted, it's a harder road than just deciding how you'll talk and then applying those rules at all times, but in the end I think it makes things easier, when more complicated social groups come into play. (Exhibit A: Locker rooms. Ugh.) 

..and violating it could result in some unfortunate future job prospects down the line. My first employer violated every labor law in the book and compared his attractive young assistants to pieces of meat. Out loud. 20 years later, prospective employers still want to talk with him to learn about my qualifications and ethic (hah!). Don't turn yourself inside out over it, but if you can give the two weeks, do it. Take the high road. No matter how bad the employer is, they still influence your career trajectory decades later.

As the only single child in my family, I'm an aunt with 7 nieces and nephews. It was hard in the beginning, essentially being the only one whose life didn't change while my parents became grandparents, my siblings became parents, and the kids became the focal point of the family. It was especially hard because I'm not a baby person at all. It's a transition time, and you have to learn to transition too, from being a child to being an aunt or uncle. Try to spend time with your parents alone, or your siblings alone or in smaller groups (with or without the kids) to ease the transition, and be open with them about why. Accept that sometimes you'll be on the sidelines, especially while the kids are really young and need so much attention. I'm still single and childless, and my oldest niece and nephew are in high school and getting ready to go off to college - and guess what? I'm tighter and in closer contact with them than I am my siblings in some ways, and it's an enormous privilege to have their friendship and trust and to be in their lives on a regular basis in a way their parents don't. Without resorting to quoting the Byrds or Ecclesiastes or whatever, get through this transition time as best you can - you never know what's on the other side.

Great comment, thanks.

You didn't quote, and yet the earworm is implanted.

 

I get it-- there are 8 kids under 12 and 2 more on the way in my extended family. It's very challenging and not always fun. The way I view it is that these get togethers are a once a month gift to my parents and I will do it for them. Viewing it as a gift makes it much easier to tolerate

Embrace, even. Thanks.

Recognize that this time will pass... under three years old is intense and even in a few years when the youngest is 3, it will be way easier. I second #3 of what Carolyn said for you... great opportunity to bond with your nieces/nephews... plus whenever you do have kids, if these monthly dinners continue, you will love that your now-older nieces and nephews will play with their younger cousin and all of the adult siblings will get to talk. So, think of it as putting your time in, to have payback later. Monthly is not too much of a commitment towards having a close-knit family... really. Parenting kids under 3 is intense... but it will get easier and those parents would love a hand, so that they could have 5 minutes to finish a though.

t.

This is my life! Less with family and more with friends. I feel very disconnected when I get around all my friends with kids, as I feel I have nothing to contribute to the diaper/preschool/tantrum conversation. I agree w/ Carolyn to set lower expectations about what the conversation will be about and try to enjoy it for what it is. I will say though, that as the kids get older, they get funnier. And you'll be surprised how much you can talk to a 4 y.o. about. Don't assume that you have to talk to an adult to have an adult conversation. My nephew knows more about space than I ever did!!

If you want to connect with your siblings, bring dinner over one night at their house, then visit with them after the kids go to bed. We have done that many times back and forth with each other. The parents will delight in not having to cook, and you can get the adult conversation that both of you crave.

Original poster here. Yeah, my son attends a small private school and they haven't gone full nuclear on treats yet. We do special treat day about nine times during the school year and all the kids really enjoy it, so I hope they don't ban it! In response to the idea that the other parents aren't just pissy over cupcakes, it probably also has something to do with the fact that my husband and I are significantly less wealthy than everyone else and I work part-time from home. The comments I have heard regarding my cupcakes are things like, "Must be nice to have that much free time" and (when she thought I couldn't hear her), "She just does this because it's all she has." I've been friendly with everyone (there are a few parents that are kind, thankfully), but frankly I don't want to be more than polite to snarky people.

"Must be nice to have that much free time" and (when she thought I couldn't hear her), "She just does this because it's all she has" = Mean girls!

Or, I should say, insecure people who have not figured out that they'll feel a whole lot better about their wobbly selves if they embrace others, vs tearing them down. I pity them.

So, new answer: Please, please frost the next batch to the sky. 

And if the principal says anything to you, please respond as follows: "You ask me to tone down my cupcakes, and yet when a couple of parents say condescendingly that I do this 'because it's all she has,' I expect there are no corrections from the front office. I respectfully request that the emphasis be on civility and celebrating differences within this community, and not frosting height on special-treat day."

I'm sticking to the friendliness advice though. Snarky people may seem like a waste of your time, but see their attitude as defensiveness and maybe you'll find it's worthwhile, mutually, to break those defenses down.

Unless the cans were dented and/or bulging with gas, they were almost certainly fine. The "sell by" or "best by" date doesn't actually tell you anything about when the food goes bad: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/12/26/167819082/dont-fear-that-expired-food

I have read up on this, too, and apply what I've learned to what I eat, but I still wouldn't give expired food as a gift. Food banks won't take it either. 

I should say, the food banks I've dealt with.

As a New Englander who is also an Air Force Brat, I am baffled at the concept that someone who moved to the South assumes that Miss <First Name> is an urban, hip thing. Have they never read to Kill a Mockingbird/other books or watched tv or a movie? It's similar to coke vs. pop debate and I cringe at the idea of the family traveling overseas and dealing with the cultural differences and expectations there. Thank god my parents taught us to roll with it, always be nice, always say please and thank you, and never ever assume someone means malice towards you unless proven otherwise. Yeesh.

Might I send it a copy of The Gift of Fear?

On that note ... Bye, thanks, have a great weekend and type to you here next week. Headline suggestions encouraged as always. 

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Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on washingtonpost.com. She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.

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