Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: Help! My son just bought an engagement ring! I've had one pet peeve since he started to date this woman: She never gets up to help clear the table! My son is a "doer" -- he cooks and cleans -- but when they are at a family gathering, everyone gets up after the meal and clears the table. She remains seated. It really riles everyone up, but we are all afraid to say anything. I don't want to be the grumpy mother-in-law, but really! The day we met her, there were 14 at the table. At the end of dinner, everyone got up to clear except for me. (Everyone knows the cook doesn't clear.) She said, "I guess I should get up," and I said, "I think you should!" This was the first and last time she ever did! What can I do to graciously ask her to help out? Tired
DEAR TIRED: It is surprising that you don't know how to graciously ask a question. Granted, being gracious is not quite as entertaining as criticizing someone behind her back, but it's infinitely easier.
Your future daughter-in-law might not really know how to roll up her sleeves and plunge in. Or maybe you are right, and your son is marrying a lazy git.
You can retrain her by asking, nicely, every time you dine together, "Let's give the cook a break and help with the dishes, honey. I'll wash, and you can dry."
DEAR AMY: "Grumpy Old Man" was complaining about the kids who live next door hitting many balls a day into his backyard. I can't believe you encouraged him to continue to be grumpy! He should embrace these young people, whose biggest crime is that they are playing baseball.Upset ReaderDEAR UPSET: I could imagine how "Grumpy" felt. Sometimes, the repetition of youthful incursions into flower beds wears a person down. Next thing you know, you're shaking your fist in the air, yelling, "Hey, you kids, get the heck out of my yard!"