Share This Page

5th wheel mars a special weekend

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 11:32 a.m.

Dear Carolyn:

My best friend lives about six hours away, and we get together a couple times a year, either with kids or without. There is one weekend in particular that I visit and we participate in a road race.

Last year, a mutual friend found out about my upcoming trip and said, “That sounds like fun! I think I'll join you!” The trip was OK, but I missed being able to truly catch up with my friend, and the fifth wheel started to get on both our nerves.

The annual trip is now fast approaching, and the mutual friend keeps bringing it up, assuming she is invited. I have been noncommittal about going. My inclination is to tell a white lie and say I'm not going, but I fear she would find out (we work together), and that would be so hurtful.

How do you tell someone you don't want them to intrude on your weekend getaway?

— Avoid the Fifth Wheel

You offer them something you would like to share instead, that's how. You explain to her that, dorky as it sounds, this trip is a special and long-standing tradition that you and the other friend share, “but let's (blank) instead.” Think carefully before you fill in that blank, because the whole thing hinges on the sincerity of that offer.

Will it be a blissfully non-awkward conversation? I wish. All you can hope for is a forthright exchange between adults who can handle a little awkwardness. Keep in mind that the “white lie” alternative — whopper is more like it — is not a legitimate one. You either own your preference or make room for three.

Dear Carolyn:

I have a favorite song that I sing to my 9-month-old daughter. I would like to discourage other family members from singing this special song to her. Is that a realistic thought? If so, how is the best way to handle it?

— Mom

Controlling, yes; realistic, no. The best way to handle it is to resolve not to try so hard to handle things.

A song you sing to your child will become special because it is, not because you've decided it will be.

There will never be a shortage of totems, symbols or special moments between a parent and a well-loved child. As an involved parent, you are the principal figure in your child's life — or at least tied for it.

So, you don't need to force the issue of your special place. In fact, in doing so, you risk looking past the meaningful moments and mementos that your lives together will produce organically — and, in this case, you risk interfering with the crucial connections between these other family members and your daughter. Hold those reins too firmly and, in time, your daughter will chafe.

A small matter like a “special” song is a chance to practice the subtle art of letting your stories write themselves.

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.