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Ask Lisi: Set some ground rules for friends at the cottage

Advice: Sit down and figure out how best to plan for guests who wish to join you this summer. Maybe a week is too long, so cap it at four days.

Dear Lisi: My family owns a cottage by a lake about three hours from the city. It’s modern in amenities, but rustic in build. We’ve renovated and redone many things over the 50 years since it was built.

Everyone loves it up there and we all pitch in knowing it’s not a turn-key situation. One of my closest friends has been coming up since we were kids and knows the place very well.

Once in our 20s, she came up with a boyfriend whom she was trying to impress. She lay about, did nothing to help and acted as though we were there to wait on and serve her. It was strange behaviour and we discussed it after the weekend.

She’s newly married with a baby and has asked to spend a week with me and my family (husband, dog, toddler and baby on the way) this summer. I’m nervous she’s going to act like it’s a hotel. I don’t have the energy for that. What do I do?

Pregnant and tired

Talk to your husband. Sit down with him and figure out how best to plan for this guest and any others who wish to join you this summer. Maybe a week is too long, so cap it at four days.

Perhaps asking people to bring their own bedsheets and/or towels to minimize the amount of laundry between guests would be helpful. Divide up the meals so you’re not the one expected to do all the cooking and cleaning up.

Most importantly, make sure you and your husband are united on your expectations and limitations.

Reader’s Commentary regarding the woman who called the letter-writer a “poser” for wearing a mask (Jan. 27):

“My first impulse was to explain her reasons for still wearing a mask, but realized the proper response to such a rude person was a simple expletive. No explanation mark, no yelling, just a quiet expletive. That’s all that was needed.

“If you think that’s too rude, a simple, ‘mind your own business’ will work, too.”

FEEDBACK regarding the wife of a spontaneous husband (Feb. 3):

Reader — “The Chronic Spontaneity mom who is constantly correcting her husband’s dumb mistakes is creating unnecessary conflict. When her husband goofs and purchases expensive tickets for a football game that conflicts with a previously planned activity, his wife confronts him, ‘an argument ensues. …. [and] he gets mad at me for putting a damper on his fun.’

“She becomes ‘the Bad Guy’ because, instead of waiting for him to own up to a problem he has created, she blames him.

“If this mom waited until her husband realized that he had booked tickets for an out-of-town event on a day when his son was scheduled to be at a piano recital, then it would be up to him to find a solution — and he wouldn’t be able to blame his wife for pointing out that he had made a mistake. Perhaps he would decide to sell the tickets on a resale website, or explain to his son that he’d have to cancel his piano recital. He would have to find a solution.

“It appears that this mom believes it is more important to start an argument and make her husband look foolish than to allow him to accept responsibility and learn from his mistakes.”

Retired Social Worker

Lisi — Though I appreciate your point of view, you’re jumping to conclusions. I didn’t get that the mom feels it’s more important to start an argument or make her husband look foolish. I believe she was protecting her children from constant routine disruption and protecting her bank account from his costly impulse splurges. She is the realist to his fantastical way of thinking.

And by the way, you can’t just cancel a piano recital.

FEEDBACK regarding the little girl who stares at the friend’s parent and does not engage in conversation (Feb. 14):

Reader — “As someone who works with neurodiverse children, there is a possibility that this little girl has difficulties with social communication and interaction. Instead of judging, this parent could be kind and try to engage with the girl.

“For children who have difficulty communicating socially, kindness, modelling and coaching can go a long way to help. And just because she is not talking or playing does not mean she is not feeling or enjoying being around others. She just may not know how to talk to or play with other people.”

Reader #2 — “Perhaps we’re missing something important regarding the staring kid. What if she is trying to communicate to your correspondent that there is something seriously amiss in her home life?”

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected] or [email protected]