D ear Amy: I have a friend whose daughter and mine were classmates in intermediate and middle school. Although our daughters moved on to different high schools, we remained close friends. Our daughters graduated the same year but three weeks apart.
She sent my daughter a graduation gift, a check for $100. I reciprocated with a check of the same amount to her daughter when she graduated.
Weeks later, we went out to lunch with two other friends. After lunch, she tried to return the check I gave to her daughter. I politely said, “No,” adding that it was for her daughter -- just an even exchange of gifts.
A month later, I noticed she still had not deposited my check.
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I sent her an email reminding her to do so and that I hoped she had not lost the check. I did not get a response. It’s been almost seven months but she has not deposited the check.
Our other friends told me to let it go.
I am really confused about this. There was no argument -- in fact, I gave her birthday and Christmas gifts months later, which she accepted and thanked me for. What should I do?
— Bewildered Friend
Dear Bewildered: I agree that this is confusing. A gift of $100 is quite substantial, and I wonder if in your friend’s mind she can afford it but you cannot? Is it possible that she felt that her generosity had put pressure on you to reciprocate exactly and she felt self-conscious about it?
I suggest you try one more time by saying to her (in person): “I realize a lot of time has gone by, but I am still confused about why you wouldn’t pass along my graduation gift to your daughter. What’s that about?” She will either explain this in a way that makes some sense to you, or she won’t.
After that, it’s time to stop payment on this check and then -- yes -- let it go.
Dear Amy: I drop my child off at school in the mornings. Today in the car parked beside us I noticed two adults with (presumably their) children in the back seat. The children looked to be under the age of 5. Both parents were smoking.
As a registered nurse I work with patients who have lung disease. Adults with lung disease comment regretfully upon the negative effects of cigarette smoke on their own health. Second-hand cigarette smoke can have an even greater impact upon a child’s still-developing lungs, and it increases their risk of developing respiratory diseases.
I had to say something, feeling strongly that I was witnessing a form of child abuse. I spoke very simply about children exposed to cigarette smoke. The dad appeared a bit startled and said he would “take that into consideration.” He seemed reasonable enough. I’m not sure where to go from here if I witness this again. What is your opinion?
I would like to say it again in this venue: Parents, when you smoke around your children, your children are also smoking.
— Jen RN
Dear Jen: You did the right thing, and the father responded respectfully. I don’t think there is any more you can do to make these people more responsible parents. Perhaps other smoking parents reading your letter will change their ways. On behalf of their children, thank you.
Dear Amy: Like many readers, I have a point of view about “All Charged Up,” whose friend plugged into his electric outlet to charge his vehicle during a visit.
I think the real problem is that this friend didn’t show him the courtesy of asking first. Charging up costs pennies, but it’s important to be courteous.
Dear Reader: In searching for an analogy, I arrived at an old-fashioned one: If a friend rode his horse to your house, would you give the horse feed and water during the visit? Of course you would.