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Rude awakenings and spoiled kids

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Dear Ella,
I met a very special lady at a New Year’s party. She’s intelligent, beautiful, divorced and financially secure.
I can’t believe I’m complaining about this, but we have gone out to a few restaurants and it’s always the same: she doesn’t treat the wait staff nicely. This really bothers me. She’s demanding about what she orders. She never orders straight off the menu – everything is either on the side, cooked differently, different sides, etc. When the meal arrives, she never accepts it, and worse, she is borderline rude and sarcastic. This trait doesn’t fit her otherwise kind, easy-going demeanour. Should I say something or just suck it up and hope this all works itself out?
Can’t Have It All

Dear Can’t Have It All,
If it doesn’t feels right to you, don’t ignore it.
There’s nothing wrong with asking to customize your meal, however it’s not OK to be rude and sarcastic.
Why is she acting this way? Is it only in restaurants? Does she treat other people in the service industry poorly? Is this a pattern?
You’ve only known her a few weeks. Normally, this is the stage when you’re both on your best behaviour. You dress up, look great, smile, laugh and tell stories. You’re in the “getting to know each other” phase, the most superficial, but necessary, part of dating. As time passes, you’ll let your hair down and relax. That’s when you start to see real life creep into the relationship – usually at about the three month mark.
People who don’t treat waiters well may be revealing a window into their true personality. Be careful. Next time, why not be honest and let her know how uncomfortable you feel with the way she handled a situation at the restaurant?
You might as well find out now what you’re dealing with, before you invest any more emotion, hope and time into it.


Dear Ella,
I was raised in a middle-class family, where everything and everyone was respected and appreciated. My husband Mark’s parents were well off and have always showered him with material things.
We want our children to understand that there are other people who are not as fortunate as we are. We want to raise them to be kind, compassionate and charitable. After last year’s holiday season and their birthdays, the ridiculous abundance of toys we accumulated was obscene. We decided then to ration how many toys they could have. We told both sets of parents that each child would be allowed to choose a toy and the rest would be donated.
My in-laws arrived at our house with a box filled with wrapped toys. As promised, I allowed both kids to choose one toy each. My mother-in-law was fuming and told us how selfish we were, not only for upsetting the kids, but because we were denying them the pleasure of spoiling their grandkids. They left angry and we have not heard from them since. Should I call and apologize? Not sure how to handle this.
Pushing Boundaries

Dear Pushing Boundaries,
Don’t let this fester. Arrange for you and Mark to go see them and offer a compromise. Instead of toys, have them buy experiences – something your kids will remember, something that will allow all of you to share family time. Maybe tickets to a play or movie, or a day of skating, even if the grandparents just watch and drink hot cocoa. Better still, let them take the kids toy shopping to pick toys to donate to a shelter or a fire station. Then all of you go as a family, so the kids can experience what giving feels like. Your mother-in-law will feel great when she experiences that.
Grandparents should spoil their grandkids, but they can do it within your boundaries. The possibilities are endless and so are the memories.