Dear Annie: My husband and I have chosen not to have children. His family asks repeatedly if we've "changed our minds" about it, so obviously they do not approve of our choice.
My husband recently gave me a 30th birthday party, and invited his extremely child-oriented family. The entire duration of the party, I noticed his siblings and parents fussing with the very young children (about ages 4 and up), not paying attention to anyone but the kids. I found this rude, and thought they could at least pretend to be interested in my birthday celebration. When I asked one of my sisters-in-law if she saw me open her gift, she retorted, "Sorry, watching my daughter was a little more important than a 30-year-old opening presents."
My husband and I are extremely generous with all of their children. Am I wrong to think that their behavior was rude? They seemed to believe simply showing up was good enough. My family and friends with children seem perfectly capable of tending to their kids while still being able to interact with other adults. How should I handle this? -- Not-So-Happy-Birthday
Dear Birthday Girl: This depends on the kids. Children, especially the very young ones, require constant supervision. Surely you are grateful that the parents watched to be sure their kids didn't crash into your glass table, empty the tissue box into the toilet or whine loudly about the food.
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We think you were kind to invite these little children to your birthday party. But if you have kids around, you cannot expect to have the parents' undivided attention. You are assuming it was somehow a subtle criticism of your not having children, but we don't think it was intentionally rude. Had those kids been running wild, you would have written us to complain about the parents' inadequate supervision. (We get plenty of those letters.) If you want an adult party next time, it's perfectly OK to exclude the children. Otherwise, this is how it's going to be for the next several years. Please don't let it bother you so much.
Dear Annie: A friend recently lost his home in a fire, and said the reason was two 9-volt batteries that were loose in a drawer. The fire occurred while they weren't home. Something similar occurred at my husband's office, but it was only a small spark and they were able to get it under control quickly.
Please tell your readers to be sure to store their batteries in their original containers and to make sure that the contact posts aren't touching. I always place a piece of tape over the contacts before I throw them away. If we can save even one life (or home), it will have been worth it. -- M.
Dear M.: According to the National Fire Prevention Association, the odds of 9-volt batteries starting a house fire are slim. Nonetheless, batteries should not be stored loose where they can come into contact with metal (keys, pocket change, aluminum foil, paper clips), glue or other materials that could cause them to spark. Cover the posts and store all batteries upright in their original packaging. It is best not to dispose of them in the trash. Check with your local authorities to find out where to take them for proper disposal or recycling.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at creators.com.