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Dear John: Happy Birthday to Whom, Exactly?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

 

What’s your problem? Write to John at [email protected]

Dear John,
 
I am so mad. Recently, my husband floated the idea of buying me breast implants for a birthday present! I am not opposed to cosmetic surgery in general and a couple of my friends have had them (which we’ve talked about), but this was out of the blue. I’m happy enough with my body and always assumed he was too. Now I don’t know what to think. I told him no, but I am still angry and hurt he would even propose such a thing. Am I overreacting?
 
Fine As Is

 
Dear Fine,

Just to clarify, was this your birthday or his?
 
No, I don’t think you’re overreacting. But if he’s usually sensitive and thoughtful, I think you should try to write this off as one of those forehead-slappers we all blunder into from time to time. You should talk with him about it if you haven’t already. Let him know that your feelings were hurt that he apparently wishes your body were substantially different, and tell him you’re happy with yourself the way you are.
 
Hopefully, his back-up plan isn’t to give you that fly-fishing rod he’s had his eye on…

 

Dear John,
 
First, let me say that I am happily married. My wife and I have a great son and daughter. Everything’s fine except I have developed a crush on our nanny! At first I dismissed these feelings, but if anything, they have grown stronger. She’s a sweet, very smart college student, and she’s fantastic with our kids, who are crazy about her. I have never cheated on my wife, but I’ve never felt this way about anyone else since we’ve been married. I know the best thing would be for us to find a new nanny, but I haven’t a clue how to propose this with something resembling a plausible explanation. Any ideas?
 
Smitten

 
Dear Smitten,
 
Not really. None to help you get rid of your nanny, anyway, because I don’t think that’s your best course of action.
 
I assume you and your wife (or more likely, just your wife) put a lot of time and effort into finding someone trustworthy and kind to spend time with your kids. Then you brought her into their lives and allowed them to become attached to her. And now you want to disrupt her life, disappoint your kids, and start your search all over again because you’ve developed a “crush” on her?
 
Please keep a little perspective here: you found someone you can trust to take care of your kids. Do not take that for granted or discard it lightly. Not having to worry about their care – or far worse, not having to deal with the aftermath of someone unworthy of your trust ­– is of tremendous value.
 
So you’ve developed a crush on her. Get a grip. It will pass, as these things always do when they’re allowed to. In the meantime, keep it to yourself and don’t do anything stupid. This isn’t a problem yet. Don’t make it one.

 
Dear John,
 
I have only just begun my college career and I am already really disturbed by the amount of cheating that goes on! I don’t want to report my fellow students, some of whom are my friends, but I don’t want to compete with them and their unearned high grades when we’re all trying to get a job someday, either! I would appreciate any advice you can give me.
 
An Honest B

 
Dear Honest B,
 
In a way, this seems fitting if college is supposed to prepare you for life in the “real world.” Cheating is practically the national pastime.
 
I don’t think you should start reporting your friends, either, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other steps you could take. I would begin by talking with your academic advisor to see if he or she is aware of the prevalence of the problem. Once notified of the issue, perhaps your professors could more heavily weight things like classroom participation and other demonstrations of knowledge that are more or less “cheating-proof.” Maybe you could talk to a student group about sponsoring some kind of panel discussion on academic dishonesty. There are a lot of ways you can raise awareness of the issue.
 
At the risk of descending into platitudes, college is not about grades as much as it’s about refining your ability to think critically and analytically, and there is no short cut to achieving that. Continue to do what you’re doing, and don’t give in to the temptation to throw your standards off the nearest frat house balcony.

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected]

 

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