Miss Manners: Choosing a new roommate need not hurt feelings of old

March 18, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am currently a college freshman. This year, our roommates were selected for us; however, next year we can stay with our current roommates or select a new one. I do not care for the roommate I have now. How do I tactfully tell her that I do not intend to room with her next year without seeming mean?

GENTLE READER: Breaking up is always difficult, but that is not the problem you face. You and your roommate are merely approaching the end of a finite contract, not even one of your own making.

Miss Manners advises treating it that way. “Miranda and I are getting a double together next year,” you might ask her in the way of pleasant conversation. “Have you made your plans yet?”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our 4-year-old son was invited to a birthday party by the parents of one of his classmates, and he was very excited. On the day of the party, I took along our 2-year-old since our baby sitter was out of town.

During the whole two-hour period, the birthday boy’s parents did not so much as acknowledge our presence. When the cake was cut, my younger son was not offered any cake or something to drink (despite there being plenty), even after voicing his desire.

I thought that was very inconsiderate and downright rude of the hosts, since I took the time in shopping for their son’s gifts and showed up at their party. Why did they bother to send out the invitations if that is the kind of treatment guests would receive? Am I wrong in thinking that the little boy should have been offered something to eat and drink even though his name was not on the invitation card?

That whole experience has left me feeling slighted and very disappointed about how a little child was treated. I have a mind of writing a letter to the hosts and letting them know how we feel about the whole incident. What do you think?

GENTLE READER: That they may let you know how they feel, pointing out, either subtly or crudely, that as not only your younger son but also you had not been invited to this party, you should not have expected to be treated as guests.

Mind you, Miss Manners does not consider that an excuse for snubbing you once you were there. It was particularly callous to deny a 2-year-old refreshments that he could see others enjoying.

Some people do give all-family birthday parties for small children, because they value family friendships, sympathize with baby-sitting problems, or are just glad to have other parents there supervising their own children.

Other hosts feel that they have enough difficulty managing a party of children of one age without taking on additional guests who are of an age to require different amusements or, in the case of adults, different refreshments.

Miss Manners does think that you should write to these people, apologizing for your confusion and — this is the part that should shame them — blaming no one but yourself for your younger child’s disappointment.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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