Intolerance from one mother to another

Posted May 13, 2012, at 5:26 a.m.
Emily Yoffe
Emily Yoffe

Dear Prudence,

Anne and I have daughters enrolled in the same dance classes. We both often stay at the lessons and chat with other moms. But I’ve always gotten the impression that Anne doesn’t like me. She never returns my greetings and often turns away from the conversation when I’m talking.

Last week we were both walking to our cars, so I asked, “Anne, have I done something to offend you? I hope not, because I’d really enjoy getting to know you better.” Anne turned to me and said, “I’m sorry, but I am against adoption. I believe buying children is ethically deplorable.” She got in her car and drove off.

I should now explain that I am white and my husband is black, so our daughter has darker skin than I do. Since she’s never met my husband, Anne assumed I adopted my daughter from Africa: I found her assumption to be deeply offensive, because although my daughter is not adopted, I am. I’m pretty grossed out by Anne’s judgment, but I don’t know how to respond, or if I should even bother engaging such a narrow-minded person.

— Deeply Offended

Consider yourself lucky that Anne opened up to you. If you had fit her criteria for being acceptable, you might have unwittingly become friendly with this deranged person. So she’s against adoption, is probably a racist, and because she’s such a seething mass of hatreds she doesn’t even know how to behave courteously to a fellow mother at her daughter’s dance class. She’s beneath contempt, and now that she’s expressed to you the reasons for her rudeness, there really isn’t any need for a response from you.

It’s a delicate thing to remain polite in the face of such nuttiness, but as long as you are friendly to the other mothers, Anne’s bizarre behavior will speak for itself. Since you and your daughter are lovely, and Anne is obviously rude to you, the others will likely wonder if Anne is a roaring racist, which would be a good assumption. Otherwise, forget about this nitwit and just have pity for her daughter.

Dear Prudence,

A few years ago, I purchased my first home. Through a little good fortune and lot of hard work, I have come very close to paying off the entire balance of the home loan rather quickly. I would love to share in this milestone with friends and family by throwing a celebratory get-together this summer, with food and drinks provided, to mark the occasion.

However, some of my friends are unemployed or underemployed, and about half currently rent out the places they call home. I can’t help but worry that, in this economic environment, a party to celebrate my lack of indebtedness might rub people the wrong way, especially those who may just be scraping by. Consequently, I’ve considered limiting the gathering to a few people with whom I’m especially close. Would I rain on some parades by throwing a larger party, or should I feel at liberty to share this news and invite the whole crew?

— Debt Free

Dear Debt:

Throw a lovely summer party and keep the reason for the celebration private. You don’t need an excuse to have friends over for food and drink. But tapping on a glass to announce “The reason I’ve gathered you all here is to raise a toast to the fact that I have paid off my mortgage at an accelerated rate” will definitely be hard for everyone else to swallow.

Dear Prudence,

I’m a university student still living at with home with my parents. This summer however, I’m studying at another university, and I’ll be sharing an apartment with three other girls. This will be the first time I’ll actually have to do my own laundry, and as I don’t want to seem weird, I have a question.

At my house, everyone has their own set of bath towels, and they get washed about every three weeks. While recently staying at a friend’s house though, she told me that her family just washes their towels every time they use them. I never thought about it before, but will I seem dirty if I don’t wash my towels every day?

— Laundry Quandary

This reminds me of the old Joan Rivers joke about hating to do laundry: “So I told my husband we had three sets of sheets — white, gray, and black.” Washing your towels every time you use them sounds a little OCD to me and would definitely make me want to install hand dryers at my home if that were the standard I was expected to keep. I wash my towels once a week, so of course I think that’s the right amount of cleanliness.

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. Questions may be edited.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in Living