DEAR AMY: I host a dinner once a year for a group of friends. One of the couples in our group told us they have bedbugs in their house. They are not doing anything about it. They moved the furniture away from the wall and seem to think that’s all they need to do.
I am terrified to have someone bring bedbugs into my house. I don’t know what to do. How do I get out of having the dinner at my house?
I don’t want to hurt their feelings or make a big deal in front of all of our friends. Please help with a solution or an excuse. — Dilemma
DEAR DILEMMA: I shared your letter with Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an etymologist at Cornell University, who specializes in Cimex lectularius, commonly known as bedbugs. Our conversation actually made me itch with anxiety.
People can transfer bedbugs on their clothing, bags, shoes or coats. Gangloff-Kaufmann said: “If someone has a bedbug problem at home that they are not addressing, they will probably end up with bedbugs in their clothing. It is negligent not to deal with them responsibly. It’s like having the flu; you have a responsibility to try not to transmit it to other people.” For more information and tips, check the website nysipm.cornell.edu
Your friends were open about their bedbug problem; you should be open with them about the consequence: “I’m extremely afraid of a bedbug infestation. I’m very sorry, but I don’t think you should come to our house until you’ve definitely eradicated the problem at your house.”
You might want to meet for a cookout at a local park instead of hosting this event indoors.
DEAR AMY: I have been friends with “Suzy” forever. She has two lovely boys, but she is a helicopter parent. She doesn’t let her boys make decisions on their own. As a schoolteacher of over 20 years, I often work with parents to help modify behaviors.
While visiting her, I saw her eldest son almost hit another child while playing. It was completely accidental, and no one was hurt.
Suzy ran over to her son and told him he shouldn’t hit other kids, etc. I stepped in and told her that it was innocent and her boy is at the age to make decisions and understand the consequences, and that maybe embarrassing him in front of others wasn’t the best approach.
Realizing I overstepped (admittedly, I get into teacher mode), I apologized to her. I understand parents want to parent the way they see fit.
Six weeks later I hadn’t heard from her. I reached out by phone and text. She responded by text: “Hey, I really need some space and can’t talk to you for a while. Wish you joy.”
I was flabbergasted. Do I deserve banishment? I feel that after all this time she could talk to me like an adult.
What are your thoughts? — Upset Friend
DEAR FRIEND: You have admitted that what you did was wrong, but you are also minimizing your own behavior by continuing to criticize “Suzy.”
You criticize her as a “helicopter,” but isn’t this exactly what you were doing? Hovering, swooping in, correcting and shaming? Calling out a parent over a parenting choice that, in my opinion, is justifiable (from her perspective) is extreme, and this is why her reaction is extreme.
In addition to her being angry with you, if you habitually jump in to correct her, or if she feels scrutinized and criticized, then she might not want to work things out or continue the friendship at all. Accept that she genuinely wishes you joy and move on.
DEAR AMY: I thought your response to “Confused in the Country” was ridiculous. Why shouldn’t people spend an occasional night away from their partners, for goodness’ sake? — Disgusted
DEAR DISGUSTED: If one partner suddenly declares he wants to have a slumber party with the guys to “play board games,” I think it’s natural to wonder why.