Rising Above Bullying
Dear Annie: My 81-year-old mother lives in Florida with her same-age boyfriend of 10 years in a 55-plus community, which requires residents to maintain the interior and exterior of their home. I live in Ohio and fly down periodically to maintain this property. I also stay there.
My last visit, while I was completing a plumbing repair, I caught a glimpse of her boyfriend mocking me behind my back. And this was not the first time, I will state. I ignored him and completed my task.
My mother obviously sees this behavior and says nothing. I feel hurt and have not returned since.
This man has alienated many family members, and I do not want his behavior to affect my relationship with Mom. Any suggestions? -- Mocked Man from Ohio
Dear Mocked Man: Whether because he's unable to do as much around the house as he'd like, or because he's jealous of her love for you, it sounds as though this man is insecure for one reason or another. The old saying about rubber and glue comes to mind. Whatever he says or does, let it bounce off you and stick to him.
And the next time you catch him mocking you behind your back, feign ignorance and ask him -- as though genuinely curious -- what he's doing. "Nothing," or some variation thereof, will most likely be his response. But he might behave himself more in the future, if he knows he'll be called out.
As for your mom, I understand why your feelings are hurt by her reluctance to speak up on your behalf. But it doesn't mean she doesn't love you. Likely, she's trying to avoid rocking the boat; for all you know, he picks on her, too. Spend some one-on-one time with her and ask her about her relationship dynamic to make sure he's not being emotionally abusive. Whatever you do, do not let that bully alienate you from your own mother.
Dear Annie: Can you please address how stutterers are treated in public places? My brother-in-law stutters, and it is amazing to me how some waitstaff make fun of him. He is in his 50s, an adult, intelligent and this is a problem that he's been dealing with for many years. Some waitstaff are kind and patient as he tries to tell them his order. Can restaurant managers please educate their staff that some patrons have trouble with stuttering? -- Hurt to See This
Dear Hurt to See This: It's hard to believe that adults would stoop so low. Truly, I pity people who are so self-absorbed, apathetic and shallow that they don't know what it is to be a human being. The joke, if there is one, is on them.
For anyone who needs to hear this: Don't mock people with speech impediments. And get a life.
Dear Annie: I had a similar event as "Suddenly a Sister." I am the oldest of four. When we were teenagers in the mid-'70s, Dad would bring up a possibility of another sibling after he had a few drinks. We didn't think much of it. Now, after almost 50 years, we have found our half brother. All four of us, and our entire families, are aware of him even though I am the only one to have met him so far. My two brothers had similar relationships with our father as did the letter writer. My dad, though, has been gone for more than 25 years, and I don't think my brothers think any less of our father. My parents were still married when my half brother was conceived; they divorced a few years later. My mother has also met my new half brother and his family. It was a wonderful meeting. We have had other family members find and meet half siblings with wonderful results, too. Definitely, yes, "Suddenly a Sister" needs to share this wonderful news with her entire family. -- Now the Oldest of Five
Dear Oldest of Five: Congratulations on discovering a whole other branch of your family tree!
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.