Dear Miss Manners: We are American expats residing in France. Our home is bilingual: Our children speak to us in French, and we speak to them in English. It's now so automatic we don't even think about it.
Our neighbor's cousin visited us from the United States, along with her daughter, who is our daughter's age.
While my daughter and the American girl were playing at our house, my daughter turned to me to ask me something — I don't even recall what — and I replied, upon which our young guest turned to me and asked (referring to my daughter), "What did she say?!"
I was taken aback and truthfully annoyed, so I replied, "I was talking to (my daughter)" and went to another room. Should I have handled it otherwise?
While you may not like the manner in which she asked, this young girl was presumably in France hoping to learn French. Asking for a translation was not unreasonable.
If the conversation was private, you should have taken pains to make it so. Or in a rare exception to the rule against holding private conversations in front of other people, replied back to your daughter in French to encourage the girl to learn. Then you could have said, nicely and with a smile, and in English, “We’re hoping to encourage you to learn French and join the conversation.”
Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I got married last month. As we were making our rounds to each table of guests, we noticed that one of our friends "no-call no-showed." While we were surprised, we assumed something came up and didn't give it much more thought.
Then, later, we got an email from this friend saying that she was sorry she could not attend but that we should not have expected her to come without her husband.
Miss Manners, we invited this friend and her husband to the wedding. When we didn't receive an RSVP by the deadline, we followed up to ask if they had received their invitation. Our friend told us that she would attend, but that her husband would be away for work and could not make it. So, we reserved a seat for her and gave her husband's seat to someone else.
Four days before the wedding, our friend had called and said that her husband's trip had been canceled, and she asked if he could still come to the wedding. We told her that we were sorry, but we had given his seat away and we had no extra room. She said that she understood and that she would see us at the wedding.
Were we in the wrong here? We don't want to lose these friends, but we're not sure how to respond to this email.
“We’re so sorry for the confusion, but we were under the impression from our last conversation that you would be attending. We would have so loved to see you and Horatio but trust that we will get another chance soon.”