Annie’s Mailbox for June 10, 2011: Wondering how to regain friendship
June 10, 2011
Dear Annie: I met “Janice” through my son’s school. She’s a parent of one of his classmates. She would come to my house in the afternoon before picking up her kids. We would enjoy a cup of coffee and sit around and talk and laugh.
When three days went by and I didn’t hear from her, I began to get worried. She didn’t answer her phone or reply to my text messages. Finally, she phoned and told me to stop calling her and to leave her kids alone. I was in shock. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she had received a letter in her mailbox. She refused to let me get a word in and hung up. I cried my eyes out.
I asked a mutual friend to find out about that letter. Apparently, someone wrote that she was a bad mother and told her how to raise her kids. It was signed, “Anonymous.” I am stunned that Janice would think I could write such a thing.
How can I make her understand that I had nothing to do with that stupid letter? Now she goes out of her way to avoid me in the carpool lanes at school. I want our friendship back. What can I do?
— Miss My Friend in Indiana
Dear Indiana: Vicious people who hide behind anonymous notes and phone calls enjoy the havoc they wreak. It is cowardly. You can text or e-mail Janice, or leave a message on her answering machine or cell phone, saying you didn’t write this letter, you cannot imagine who did, and you miss her terribly. You also can ask mutual friends to intercede on your behalf. Still, if Janice is convinced you are the author, she may not be inclined to believe otherwise. And if she refuses to contact you, there is nothing more you can do. Sorry.
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Dear Annie: Every year, friends of ours have birthday parties at their homes and at bars. We usually can’t go because of other obligations, but when we do go, are we obligated to bring a gift? Or is a birthday card with well wishes sufficient?
If gifts are not expected and it is simply a fun get-together, shouldn’t they say “no gifts”? We enjoy seeing friends, but by having these parties every year, it seems they are only interested in presents. To find a gift that costs only a few dollars is practically impossible. Is it wrong to feel this way? Can we just bring a card? Should we skip the party altogether?
— B-Day Party Guest
Dear Guest: People who like to celebrate their birthdays are inclined to do so once every year. In most instances, these are very informal events. If the party is at a bar, you can treat the birthday celebrant to a drink. At their house, bring a snack or a bottle of something. It would be a shame to avoid all such parties because you are fixated on the presents. Go and have a good time.
Dear Annie: “Northern California” suspects that her daughter-in-law is sexually abusing her grandson, although she can’t prove it. Now the parents won’t let her see her grandchild.
There is an organization called Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) that sometimes goes by the name CASA. This grandmother needs to call the hotline in her area for the Department of Children and Families. They are mandated to check out the call within 24 hours. She does not need to give her name.
A judge will appoint a guardian to make sure the child is safe. Sometimes children are removed from the home and put in foster care or with a relative while the situation is worked out.
— A Concerned Friend
Dear Concerned: The grandmother has already contacted Child Protective Services, an attorney, a therapist and a pediatrician. Perhaps your suggestion will make the difference. Thank you.