DEAR AMY: My 10-year-old son was in the locker room after ice hockey practice this week and he saw a 13-year-old vaping in the locker room. This other boy was smoking a vaping device with strawberry-flavored nicotine. I’m very proud of my son for telling me, and for giving me and my husband the opportunity to let him know that just like smoking, or drugs, vaping is not healthy and may become addictive. My husband says we should mind our own business, and that it’s not our place to say anything, but I feel awful knowing this child is doing something dangerous that could make him ill in the future. Do I just sit back and do nothing, as my husband suggests?


DEAR CONCERNED: Your young son saw something that concerned him. He very wisely shared this with his parents.

You and your husband expressed appropriate concern about what your 10-year-old had witnessed.

And then your husband basically turned a good parenting encounter into a terrible lesson: “When you witness a rule infraction or other behavior that makes you uncomfortable, the thing to do is to keep quiet about it. It’s really none of your business.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but your 10-year-old could witness other behavior in the locker room (or elsewhere) that concerns, confuses or frightens him. Please leave the door open for him to talk, and for you to act on his behalf.

He should be encouraged to report anything to you, and you should thank him for that, answer his questions and then tell him, ”We’ve got this.”

You seem oriented toward reporting this to the vaping child’s parents.

What you should do is report it to the coach, and let the coach handle it.

I assume that vaping is not permitted in this locker room. The coach should enforce this. Of course, coaches, educators and parents should also talk to their kids about vaping.

Because vaping is a fairly recent phenomenon among teens, there don’t seem to be long-term studies showing what inhaling flavored nicotine might do to young lungs. But the nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive. The amount of nicotine in a small “Juul” branded flavor pod is equal to a pack of cigarettes.

There is also emerging research indicating that vaping increases the risk of youth taking up cigarettes.

These are all things you can talk to your son about. You can also let him know that kids sometimes do very dumb, foolish and dangerous things, and that you hope he always knows that he has the strength inside him not to do these things.

DEAR AMY: I married into a wonderful large family.

When we eat at a restaurant, after we have ordered our food, they will all leave the table together to wash their hands (presumably because they’ve touched the menus that might have germs). I’m OK to stay behind to guard the table and the purses.

Are they legit in their concerns about germs from a menu?

Should I wash my hands too, just to blend in with their tradition?


DEAR WONDERING: Gathering on the stoop to trade stories is a family tradition.

Playing soccer on the lawn is a family tradition.

Washing your hands before eating is simply something that every human lucky enough to have access to water and soap should at least attempt to do.

This is not about germy menus. Menus are the least of it. The average person has probably touched hundreds of items (including their own nose and mouth) between hand washings.

Yes, anyone washing their hands in a restaurant restroom will touch many things before actually eating — but, in addition to cleaning the hands, hand washing also centers the mind. Hand washing helps to slow a person down before sitting at a communal table. It also punctuates and helps to fill that sometimes awkward time between ordering and receiving food.

You should try it.

DEAR AMY: ”Minding My Business” is a retired gentleman who wants to use his business-class lounge privileges during an overseas trip with another couple he says are too cheap to upgrade.

Must he sit with them in the crowded terminal? No. He could simply buy them a ”day pass” to the lounge.


DEAR TRAVELER: According to ”Minding My Business,” his pals could readily afford this perk, themselves. He should definitely notify them of the opportunity to purchase temporary access to his airline’s lounge. It would make a long layover much more pleasant.

(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or ”like” her on Facebook.)


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