Q. I have offered to take care of my neighbor’s 9- and 10-year-old girls for the summer, including taking them to and from various activities, such as dance lessons, gymnastics, sports practices, movies, shopping, etc, etc. Is it too much for me to ask these girls to pick up after themselves before they go home each day, to put up their clothes, magazines, books and toys and bring their dirty dishes from the family room or outside into the kitchen? I am doing this as a favor. I love these little girls, but they seem to think they are staying in a hotel or something and do not have to do anything. I get a strange look if I ask them to do anything. I think it is proper manners for these girls to do these tasks without my even asking? What’s your opinion?
A. I definitely agree with you. These girls are old enough to understand they should be picking up their toys, magazines, books, etc., before leaving your home, their own home or anyone else’s home. It is certainly not unreasonable for you to ask them to do these tasks. It is also not unreasonable for you to have a little chat with them to explain this is part of having proper manners.
Q. I am in a pickle. One of the my girlfriends who is going to be in my wedding this fall just got this huge tattoo on her back. I can’t believe she did this before the wedding. She has been talking about it and I told her not to do it before the wedding. I told her she is going to have to figure out how to cover it up with makeup. So far, she has just laughed at me. My future husband thinks I should just tell her she’s not in the wedding. Can a bride do this? Is it proper? Would I have to pay for her dress which we picked up last week? That’s when we all saw the tattoo. I have a young niece who is about the same size, so could I ask for the dress back and then ask my niece to be in my wedding?
A. When someone accepts the request and honor of being in someone’s wedding, she accepts the responsibility of responding to the reasonable wishes of the bride. For example, wearing the type and color of bridesmaid dress the bride selects, the type of jewelry, hair style and shoes. You expressed your concern to your girlfriend prior to her getting a tattoo, so if you feel this visible tattoo is inappropriate for your wedding, you do not have to have her in your wedding party. Unemotionally and politely explain to her how you feel and tell her you will reimburse her for the dress if she gives you the dress. You need not explain to her what you plan to do with the dress. If she prefers to keep the dress, you are not obligated to reimburse her for it.
TO SPIT OR NOT TO SPIT: In reference to last week’s column, explaining how inappropriate it is for men to spit in public: A man (notice I did not say gentleman) called in with his comments: “All men spit and to expect men not to spit is unrealistic.” My follow-up to him: It is very disappointing and sad for you that you do not understand how disgusting, inappropriate and ill-mannered it is to spit in public.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.