Q: My wonderful husband's name is Richard, although we call him "Rick." My adorable son's name is Richard, and we do not shorten the name.

This arrangement was working fine, until my mother-in-law insisted on calling my adorable son "Rick," not "Richard." We have hinted many times, and we have even directly told her, but she continues to drive us crazy using the wrong name.

My poor adorable son is, needless to say, becoming very confused. How do we solve this problem without offending her forever and losing a valuable baby sitter?

A: One way is to think of her not as a baby sitter but as an adorable grandmother who makes her own pet names for her grandson, and as an adorable mother who naturally confuses her grandson with her son.

This need not be a sign of dementia. All parents, at one time or another, call their descendants by the names of older relatives -- usually those of their own siblings or the child's siblings. A child who is never called by the dog's or goldfish's name may consider himself lucky. Children, Miss Manners assures you, find their way through the confusion.

Q: I have recently begun the practice of saying a silent grace before all meals. This short pause of reflection makes the meal seem less hurried, and I have found that it greatly increases my enjoyment of whatever I eat.

When I have meals out or with friends, I do not want to impose my beliefs, but I certainly do not want to compromise that belief for the sake of "social convenience."

What is the best way to say grace in public or social settings.

So far I have simply bowed my head without warning or explanation. This seemed to work fine, until a co-worker thought I had lost a contact lens at a luncheon, thereby calling undue attention to me and making a commotion.

I don't feel that excusing myself to say grace is appropriate, but I am uncomfortable announcing that I am going to say grace before eating.

A: Miss Manners understands what you mean about not wanting to excuse yourself for saying grace. Just go ahead and say it. She wonders if your reasons are better than the ones you have given here, which seem to be more digestive than devout.

The contact lens caper is an isolated instance, and rather a funny one at that.

Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.