Q: We have lived in the same small town for over a decade. My daughter is active in sports, church and family activities. A rather awkward but sweet girl the same age as my daughter moved into our neighborhood, and in the summer the girls would occasionally play together.
During the school year, my daughter has a booked social calendar. She had a party, and this new neighbor did not make the list. She is now texting my daughter asking her why she wasn’t invited. I’ve told my daughter that is a text she should not respond to, but I wondered if you had better advice?
A: You say “did not make the list” as if it were a college acceptance letter over which neither of you had control.
If, as her parent, you were unable to convince your daughter that it would have been kind to include this girl — particularly since she is a neighbor and therefore likely to notice — perhaps you could encourage her at least to be gracious about the girl’s quite understandable hurt feelings now.
While Miss Manners concedes that it was not proper for the girl to demand an answer as to why she was overlooked, ignoring her entirely seems unnecessarily cruel. Your daughter could simply say (or text back, if absolutely necessary), “I am so sorry, but these were old friends who wanted to catch up, and I didn’t think you would find the party interesting. Perhaps we can plan to get together at another date.” And then in the name of, if nothing else, neighborly relations, encourage her to do so.
Q: My mother is throwing us a baby shower on her birthday. How should I acknowledge this? Or do I?
A: By saying “Happy birthday.”
Miss Manners hopes and trusts that your mother picked this date out of a desire to do something enjoyable on it, and not for any other (passive-aggressive) motives. If that is the case (and really, even if it is not), give a toast to thank your hostess, and add that it is also her birthday. That way, your guests can give their well wishes but will not have to feel bad for not bringing another present.
Miss Manners’ own gift to both you and your mother is not to point out that relatives should not actually be throwing showers as, much like giving your own birthday party, it looks like fishing for presents.
Q: I have a friend who will hand a gift back to me immediately after unwrapping it if she does not like it/has no use for it. She has implied I should get her something more to her liking/useful. She has done this to others. Am I wrong to be offended? I have tried to be considerate in selecting a gift, but obviously I am missing the mark. What’s the proper response?
A: To stop giving her presents.
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.