DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister-in-law recently gave birth to her second child. Her first child is a toddler. My brother-in-law, her husband, sent an email saying, “New mom and baby are doing well.”
Is she still considered a “new mom” even though it is her second child? I thought the term applied only to first-time parents, i.e., when the first baby is born. It seems that the wording should have been reversed — “Mom and new baby are doing well” — as it is the baby who is new, not the fact that she is a mother.
I ask because she was referenced as “new mom” several times, and my brother-in-law even referred to himself as “new dad.”
GENTLE READER: Perhaps the couple’s reasoning is that they are new parents to this particular child. Or perhaps, more likely, they are just sleep-deprived.
Either way, Miss Manners does not find the error to be one of manners, or even particularly of syntax. When it comes to all things newborn, she is inclined to be forgiving and encourages you to be the same by not pointing out the perceived error. As the alternative might be getting an earful about individuality and newness, silence is also simpler.
Critics, bow out
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When you are a guest at a family member’s house, and the hostess overcooks the cinnamon rolls for breakfast, is there ever a way to criticize her?
GENTLE READER: So as to avoid being invited back? That is the only reason Miss Manners can think of, as no matter how you put it, you surely do not imagine the lady will thank you and begin another batch.
Who is wrong?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I had her family over for dinner on a Sunday evening. They came at 6:30. By 9:30 I was tired. I’m a young man (31), but I’m a CPA, and it was my busy tax season, when I need sleep for my 60-65 hour weeks. I whispered in my wife’s ear that we should try to find an opportunity to let the party end, as my usual bedtime is 10 to 10:30.
My wife didn’t handle it gracefully, but her father seemed understanding. However, I heard the next day from my wife that my mother-in-law was upset that we “kicked them out.”
Who is in the wrong here? I feel that 9:30 was late enough for a Sunday evening. If it was a Friday or Saturday, I would have been more willing to let the evening go longer. Who should apologize?
GENTLE READER? You.
While Miss Manners agrees that three hours is a reasonable amount of time for dinner, she must remind you that it is never polite to dismiss your guests. Departures, however much wished, should be made of their own volition.
If you must entertain on a Sunday, plan for the evening to begin even earlier. Or when you issue the invitation, tell your relatives that you’re afraid that since it’s a work night, you won’t be able to stay up as long as you might otherwise like. If they still stay beyond your ability to stay awake, discreet yawns, surreptitiously checking the clock and occasional fits of narcolepsy are (marginally) allowed.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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