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Ask friend to kick in for vacation expenses

DEAR AMY: Next month, I am going on vacation with a friend, and we are staying at my family's vacation home. Since there will be no hotel expenses, and many of our meals will be supplied by my family, I was wondering if it would be appropriate for me to expect my friend to pick up the expense of the rental car. It would not be a hardship for either one of us to pay for it, but if I was going alone I wouldn't even be renting a car because my parents would pick me up and let me use their car if I wanted to go off on my own. I haven't addressed this with my friend because I don't want to seem petty. And I know if I said something, she would be happy to do it, but I want her to think of it on her own. Any thoughts?

-- Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: Others' inability to read your mind is not really their fault. Your passive hopefulness can turn into passive aggression when you try to manipulate someone into doing something without being brave enough to state your case. Ask your friend a simple question: "Would you mind picking up the cost of the rental car?"

My view is that since you are both receiving free housing and meals on this trip, you should split the cost of the car.

DEAR AMY: I can't believe your answer to "Going Crazy" was to indulge these selfish neighbors and to encourage them to complain about the children living in their neighborhood who are "constantly shrieking and sobbing." Although you briefly mention that it might be a mental or behavioral illness, you completely forget that it might also be child abuse causing their behavior. Either way, telling these parents that their children who live a football field away should shriek and sob more quietly is not helpful to anyone. Although the neighbors may have the right to complain, I believe the better answers could have been to realize the right of children to cry in their own homes, to recognize that crying is literally "crying for help," and perhaps Going Crazy could attempt a little compassion or at least empathy and see if there is anything they could do to help.

-- Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician

DEAR PEDIATRICIAN: I didn't read "shrieking, screaming and sobbing" quite the same way you did, but regardless, if a neighbor hears this constantly (and from a great distance), it is useless to speculate the cause but important to investigate.

Your response was much more positive and helpful than mine. Thank you.

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