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  • April 01, 2015, 12:53:12 PM

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And of course you can control the epidural, but it's pretty darned cheeky to decide that -you- know how much pain someone else "ought" to endure.

(sidenote: I also love to laugh at the people who say, "We timed it so our baby would be born in the spring.")

Why? Plenty of people are able to successfully plan/time their pregnancies, and they may have perfectly legitimate reasons for doing so.
Several years ago then-husband and I moved to a town about 15 miles from where we had been living.
I faded out of several friendships because people kept calling wanting us to drive to meet them in our old town but, when I invited them to our new home for dinner, it was too far to drive, gas was too expensive.
It seemed that the trip was shorter for then-husband and me than for our "friends". 

Another friend, we had been very close at one time, was marrying for the second time. She asked me to be in the wedding party along with her daughters and step-daughter. When I arrived at the venue,  the entire wedding party - except me - had spent the day having their hair, nails and make-up professionally done. The mothers of the bride and groom had been included. I had been intentionally not invited.
After the ceremony, the bride voluntold me to supervise the children.  I was not included in a single wedding photo when the group photos were taken.  I spent a deal of money to purchase a dress and shoes to the bride's specification so that I could fill a space at the altar then act as an unpaid babysitter.

The big thing that will end a friendship for me is lying.  Be brutally honest. Be kindly honest.  Avoid discussing something if you want. But do not lie to me.

Time For a Coffee Break! / Re: Special Snowflake Stories
« Last post by JenJay on Today at 11:31:05 AM »
Whaaat?  Words fail me.  Is it possible that the boy was special-needs, and that's why his mother didn't want to leave him alone?

I wondered that as well and if that's the case I feel for her, but if he's mature enough to flirt and use his camera phone for selfies then it's past time she came up with a different way to accommodate him. He's going to get into serious trouble. I had a coworker in a similar situation and while medical explanations were able to spare him from legal trouble, his lack of boundaries did cost him several jobs.  :-\
44 general / Re: Am I REQUIRED to give a Wedding present?
« Last post by TootsNYC on Today at 11:29:47 AM »
I believe that Etiquette actually does require you to give a wedding gift.
The couple doesn't--our culture at large does.

In every culture I can think of, wedding gifts are expected. And the closer you are to the person, the more required they are. Especially if you are close enough to actually attend the wedding, it is proper to mark the major life event with a tangible token of some sort.

Now, the *price you pay* for that wedding gift is completely variable--it absolutely depends on your budget (it's low right now), on how close you are to them (you're very close), and perhaps other factors.

It is not at all true that you can't afford a wedding gift. You can't afford a very expensive one--but you can give them -something.- Do you have $5? Buy them kitchen towels. Do you have $2? Find a pretty vase or candle holders at the thrift store--one that looks as though it's up-to-date. (or if they like vintage stuff, find something that looks like their style, if you can figure out what that is)
   Or look at their registry--did they register for candleholders? Buy candles in the same color as their dishes. 

And if you decide my assertion is wrong and you truly can't afford anything at all, please do not tell them you can't afford a gift. That's just really ungracious. It says, "Caring about you is a burden to me, and I want you do know that."
      Just don't give one at all. If they're at all sensible and kind, they'll know that money is tight for you.
     I sometimes thing the most powerful gift of all is your time and attention--so if all else fails, get some stationery somewhere and write them a short note wishing them well and saying something about what their friendship means to you. Give it to them at the wedding.
    And then 3 months after the wedding, when your cash flow has recovered, find something economical and give it to them then.

Dindrane is totally right--if the cost of the attire is hard for you, speak up. And be prepared to drop out. You can be a close friend, wish them well, and attend their wedding without being a groomsman, and without spending money.
   Especially if you were just added to even out the line, I'd speak up now and say, "I really can't afford these clothes, I'd like to decline after all. I'm sorry I didn't realize the difficulties earlier."

I'm surprised at your assertion that these are clothes you will only wear once--a shirt, tie, and khaki pants? Those become items in your wardrobe, and every grown many would need something like that. Job interviews (in the right field, or even to make a good impression at the unemployment office, which might lead to someone being willing to go out of their way to help you more); dinner with the girlfriend's parents--I'd have thought you would get plenty of use out of those clothes.

Family and Children / Re: Changing diapers on the couch
« Last post by MindsEye on Today at 11:24:28 AM »
Public service announcement:

It is true that urine in the bladder is normally sterile (unless there is an infection or something else present).  However, once it exits the bladder that is a totally different story.  On its way from the bladder to the outside world, urine becomes contaminated by all of the bacteria normally present in the lower urethra, external genitalia, and body surface.

So that baby pee?  (Or really, any kind of pee) It is not sterile.  Not by a very long shot.
Family and Children / Re: Leaving without saying goodbye
« Last post by Lynn2000 on Today at 11:22:15 AM »
Would it be rude to have asked Aunt  "What happened?  Why did you leave without telling us?  I thought we had dinner plans."

Because how could anyone have resisted the urge to ask why?  It's so strange to just up and leave!

I don't think it'd be rude to ask. However, as the hosts didn't pursue it right away, and Aunt seemed cheerful and breezy when she called a week later, I can see how it might have felt like "the moment" had passed, you know? Like that way some people have of making rude or weird things seem normal, and you're the weird one to question it, especially a whole week later! Aren't you just a little odd to still be fixated on it? That kind of thing.
47 general / Re: Roommate's smelly cat
« Last post by TootsNYC on Today at 11:20:15 AM »
Your roommate gave you your opening, with her comment about how it smells.

So now say, "You said yesterday that it smells in here--you're right, it's really awful. We need to fix it. I've tracked it down, and it seems to be coming from the cat-care center. It smells like old pee and rotten meat. What can we do to make that not as smelly? I can't stand it anymore! And poor kitty--they have such sensitive noses."

There are lots of tactics from other people as well ("you're such a great roommate, but this is a problem...").

Grab one and do it!

Let us know how it goes.
Family and Children / Re: Can't you bathe your kids at your own house?
« Last post by bah12 on Today at 11:20:08 AM »
If it doesn't work for you, it's totally okay to decline, or figure out how to make it work for your family, and not make your children's bath routine my responsibility. 

The problem with family birthdays etc is that it's often *not* totally fine for people to decline. Even if it was fine from the OP and her husband's point o
f view, it sounds like there's pressure from OP's parents-in-law to invite the other family, so they're probably being pressured as well to attend for the sake of family.

It is totally fine to decline.  There may be anger and resentment, and there may be backlash, but it's fine to decline.  It's up to the individuals to decide where they want to go and where  their boundaries are and accept whatever consequences happen as a result.  If some family member gets that angry that an individual chooses not to participate in a party that requires eight hours of their day, a hefty amount of this being travel and drive time, the expense of travel, and they have to be at work in the morning, plus deal with the care of tiny humans who cannot deal with activities of daily living on their own yet, and they have to be ready for school or daycare, why would anyone would want to continue this relation-ship?  The phrases that come to mind are "deal with it or die mad" and "not my circus, not my monkeys."  It is okay to decline an invitation.

And yet, if you can go to an event that you would otherwise enjoy and your family would enjoy if you can have one little accommodation of 15 to 20 minutes to bathe your kids and put them to sleep before you leave, then why not consider that?  Like a PP said, the OP and her DH aren't really making anything easy for BIL and SIL.  If they decline the visit because it doesn't meet with their family schedule, DH gets mad at them.  But the OP doesn't want to accommodate the one thing that would make these visits possible.

Sure, it's the OP's house and she can do whatever she wants.  But it's also DH's house and he gets a say too.  So, if he gets upset when they decline, then he and the OP should figure out a way to make it easier for them.  Baths seem easy.  But moving the times, locations, etc would also work. 

So, basically, while you are completely right that it's both ok to decline an invitation and it's ok for the OP to refuse any offer of hospitality above and beyond the visit and food, it seems to me that everyone exercising their rights to do what they want simply because they want to, doesn't really bode well for family relationships, does it?   Having a discussion on etiquette by strictly stating the "rules" is fine, but I don't think it helps the situation get better.  What helps the situation get better would be for the OP to figure out why this bothers her and address that, talk to her husband about what he prefers with these visits, and even talk to BIL and SIL to see if something else (like meeting at their house) would be easier for them.   
49 general / Re: Am I REQUIRED to give a Wedding present?
« Last post by Dindrane on Today at 11:19:47 AM »
You're dealing with three separate issues here, which are only related to each other because they all involve you and this one wedding:

1) the attire you are being asked to buy is expensive, and it strains your budget

2) the wedding reception is potluck

3) your budget makes buying a gift difficult.

For #1, it isn't rude of your friend to expect you to pay for your attire, but it also isn't rude if you decide you can't afford it. However, your options are to stay in the wedding party and pay for it, or drop out of the wedding party so you don't have to. Before deciding which of those options you prefer to go with, it would be acceptable (because this is your friend) to say that you're really struggling to come up with the money for the outfit, and you may need to drop out of the wedding party for financial reasons. If your presence in the wedding party is important enough, your friend may offer to pay for some or all of the expenses. If it's not, you wouldn't be rude to drop out unless the wedding is taking place very soon.

For #2, they are horrendously rude to have a potluck reception, for reasons that have been explained in other threads on this board in the past. However, the etiquette-sanctioned responses to that horrendously rude behavior is to either go and bring a dish, or decline to attend the wedding entirely. So if you plan to go to the wedding, there's not really anything you can do there.

For #3, the official etiquette statement on this subject is that gifts are not required. However, while gifts are not required, if you feel close enough to the couple to want to actually attend their wedding, you should also feel close enough to the couple to feel moved to give them at least a token of your well wishes. If you do not feel moved to give them anything, then that's a sign that your relationship is distant enough that you should also decline to attend their wedding.

So in practice, if you're going to a wedding (or want to go to a wedding but are prevented by circumstance), you should be giving a present. Budgetary concerns do not come into play when it comes to deciding whether to give a present, but they do come into play when deciding what specific present to give. No matter what anyone else says or thinks, registries are suggestions and you do not need to limit yourself to purchasing gifts from them. The movie tickets and popcorn gift that you suggested would be an entirely appropriate wedding present.

The one place where these three questions intersect with each other, in my opinion, is the potluck reception and wedding gift. If someone is failing to provide the hospitality that they are required by etiquette and social custom to provide, and instead asking me to provide that hospitality for them...I would potentially consider that my gift. Or at least consider it part of my gift, and give them a much smaller token of my regard than I'd otherwise be inclined towards giving.

But to be completely honest, if anyone but a very close friend or relative invited me to a potluck wedding reception, I would almost certainly decline to attend. I'm not going to go to that amount of effort for a casual friend or acquaintance, or a relative I don't know very well. And if a close friend or relative invited me to one, I might attend without saying anything, but I might also tell them that their plans were inappropriate for a wedding reception and they'd probably get a lot of people declining to attend as a result.
In this situation, I agree with your DH and the PPs. Make this the last time you invite them.

In general, with people like this, I don't invite them again once they've done it to me once. When I'm inviting new people to something, like my young kids' birthday parties, and I don't know what kinds of manners the new guests have or if they even know what RSVP means, I write the following on the invitation:

If you plan to come, please, let us know how many will be joining us by X date so we can have enough food.

If don't hear from them by X date, then I assume they are a "no." When people have replied to me a week after X, which is generally about a day or two before the event and they've said "Sorry we didn't reply sooner. Bob, Jane, John, Suzy and I plan to come" I reply and say "I'm so sorry. I can't accommodate you anymore. I needed to know by X date. Now, the food is already purchased and I can't add any extra people. Sorry." I'm polite but firm.

I kind of like this. Of course, adults should know what RSVP means. But it's a fact that a lot of people don't, or they vaguely know but they don't connect it in their minds to something specific and practical, like the host making the right amount of food (I have been guilty on that count myself, possibly because I never host anything so I don't have a firm grasp of what goes into it). If you lay it out clearly on the invitation (at least for people you don't know well), and people still don't follow it, at least they can't say they weren't warned.
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