Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’m coming out of hiding from COVID 19 slowly, and taking a lot of flak. My impatient husband is always bugging me about "loosening up." He dragged me out for dinner to a patio last night. I went, but I begged the hostess for the only table left on the outer edges — away from everyone. Then I asked our waiter if he was vaccinated, and he said, "Yes, double-vaxxed, of course." I assured him my husband and I were, too.
Then I told the waiter I’d only take my mask off when the food came. He said, with a snarky little smile, "I’m not sure how else you would manage eating our food."
As soon as he left the table, my husband told me I’d embarrassed him, and not to be such a "nervous nelly." Am I being too careful?
— Just Out of My COVID-Careful Home, Fort Richmond
Dear Just Out: If you’ve been in "deep hiding" in your cave, it’s often hard to even go outside into the safest of situations. Brush off further invitations from your impatient husband for a few weeks, and go out with an understanding girlfriend for some first lunches.
Go to some outdoor restaurants at less popular times and sit on the fringe of the patio, where you already know you feel comfortable. Ask all the questions you want, to allay your fears. Most servers are used to people being cautious and a little fearful, and should be patient with your questions. Being snarky is not appropriate, as people are just starting to give them their business again.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I came home and found my little children in distress with the new babysitter. "What is wrong with my kids?" I demanded to know. (A mother just knows, doesn’t she?) The babysitter said, "Nothing. I’ll see you tomorrow!" and the children winced. She left, and once I promised the kids she wouldn’t be back, they tearfully told me she had yelled at them and kicked their little dog "in his beside." (They meant his "backside.") "And she hurt him, and he cried!" they said. "And we cried too."
I phoned her up and told her what the kids had told me and that she was fired. I also asked for my money back and let her know I would tell anyone who listened what she had done. She called me names so vulgar, most people don’t even know the words!
Then I phoned back the neighbour who had recommended her, and she said, "I had no trouble with her, but then my children are very well-behaved." I said, "Maybe they’re terrified of her! You’d better check." What do you think?
— Upset Mom, Fort Garry
Dear Upset Mom: One shouldn’t take chances with helpless kids and pets. Many parents have to go off to work and feel they simply have to rely on people’s recommendations for babysitters. Not so! You can buy and deploy hidden nanny cams to check on the babysitter — and your children’s behaviour, as some kids can terrorize a minder, too. And pets can even wear tiny ones on their collars!
Of course, don’t broadcast what you’re doing, or this won’t work. On the other hand, some people go another route, and advise babysitters they have kiddie cams hidden around the house to make sure the children behave, hoping that will pre-empt bad behaviour — on either side.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My mother moved in with us during COVID and the whole family became very close and don’t want her moving back home. She says she wants her privacy and I think she means with her "boyfriend." We don’t like him, and were glad they were mostly apart these many months. He never had any money we know of, and we think he’s after hers. She has considerable resources, since my dad died. What can we do to convince her to stay with us?
— Wanting to Protect Grandma, East Kildonan
Dear Wanting to Protect: Your mom is an adult and can do what she wants. What you can do is promise to get off her back, if and when she gets professional help to protect her money.
She may well think you are after it yourselves, but you can address that head-on by saying, "We have our own money, but we’re afraid one of your male admirers might be less than trustworthy, and you’re too good-hearted to know." She might surprise you and already have her small fortune protected from greedy boyfriends — and relatives!
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Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.