How about planning an activity for the children (like bubbles) that involves water and soap? Miss Manners fears that this family’s issue is likely economic or time management or both — and in any case, not solvable by you.
Pointing out hygiene problems to the school nurse or the mother will not be considered helpful. Treat the children to some good, clean fun while they are with you, and hope for the best when they are not.In-laws can’t resist cleaning DEAR MISS MANNERS: If, after one of my preschool-aged son’s events, I spontaneously invite my in-laws back to our not-exactly-immaculate house, is it appropriate for them to attempt to make it so — without checking in with me first? What if their attempt involves the sudden use of a leaf blower within vicinity of my infant daughter? Is this my problem because I shouldn’t invite them unless my house and yard are absolutely ready for prime time? GENTLE READER:
Loath as she is to get in the way of a good grudge, Miss Manners urges you to consider that your misguided in-laws were trying to be helpful. Rather than holding off on further spontaneous invitations, you could say: “I hope you don’t mind, but I’m afraid our house might be in a bit of disarray. If it will distract you from enjoying the visit, perhaps we should do it another time.” And then hide the leaf blower.Tracing the use of a special spoon DEAR MISS MANNERS: I know our beloved Victorians invented many esoteric and specialized utensils for serving such things as oysters, celery, asparagus and shrimp. Why not cranberry sauce? I have a silver piece that resembles a slotted spoon/pie server. It has a rather short handle, and instead of a bowl it has a blade that is completely round and slightly larger in diameter than a “slice” of canned cranberry sauce. Indeed, my departed mother used this utensil to serve the sauce, which she removed from the can by opening both ends and then slicing into serving portions.
Indeed, those daring Victorians were crazy about jellies, and your mother did well to use this as she did. As a rule, jelly servers were not slotted, and your piece could technically be a cucumber server or, if the handle were longer, a tomato server. If so, Miss Manners hopes you do not grudge its having a side job to carry it through between Thanksgivings.© Universal Uclick 11/29