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Learn to use party planning skills only when you choose

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Learn to use party planning skills only when you choose

Q: I just found out the hard way that one of my friends is pretty crazy about her birthday. Last week she let me and three other friends know we were ruining her birthday by not having anything planned, and mentioned that we did this last year as well.

She is in her 30s and hadn't asked to plan anything, nor has she planned anything for our birthdays in recent years.

Long story short, I capitulated. Dinner, yes, drinks afterward, yes, invited friends, yes. Then she wanted "to make the whole day fun," so I planned a salon visit per her request. Sigh.

I know it was my choice not to put my foot down. The other three friends are feeling a bit resentful as well, and this celebration will be going down in a few hours. How do I shake the resentful feelings and just enjoy the fact that it will be fun (hopefully)?

Birthday over the top

A: Turn the resentment on yourself because, you're right, you made all these choices; no one made you do it. Then decide what you want to do with your anger at yourself — pout through your pedicure, or extract something akin to pleasure out of your abject capitulation? You said yes, so, with apologies to Thoreau, go suck the marrow out of that yes. Pleasure sounds like the better bet.

And since salon treatments tend to be sequential exercises in tedious imprisonment, you can use the time to compose a toast — with, say, the specs for the party you'd like her to plan for your birthday, or the announcement that you consider yourself officially off the hook for her birthday until 2021.

Most important, reserve tomorrow for a private self-tutorial on the beauty of saying "no."

If roles are clear, nanny/parent confusions shouldn't be issue

Q: We have been lucky to have the same wonderful, caring nanny since our 2-year-old was 3 months old. She lives with us, so often she is around even when off-duty.

It has been great in many ways because my husband's and my leaving for work causes our son no stress, and he is in great hands.

At times, though, he wants to play with the nanny rather than us, or asks for her when she's not around. A part of me says this is good — I have so many friends whose kids cry when they leave — but the other part worries he doesn't understand who the parents are. Is this something to be concerned about?

Too much of a good nanny?

A: If the caregiver were Grandma/Grandpa/Auntie/Uncle, would you have this same concern?

I think it's vitally important for the nanny to be someone your kid loves, trusts, enjoys and looks forward to seeing. As you said, the alternative of having your child pine for you all day is not appealing (though, for what it's worth, the parting tears rarely equate to all-day pining; it's usually just a transitional blip).

Your bond with your child isn't about the nanny, it's about you and your child. As long as you're not leaning on the nanny as a fill-in mom, and she's not undermining you, her functioning as a third parent while your son is young won't warp his definition of "parent."

Learn to use party planning skills only when you choose 07/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 5:30am]

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