Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 18 February 2012

Your problems solved

Q. When our daughter, who has a wheat allergy, comes up to stay for weekends or hols with her husband and children, my wife takes a lot of trouble ordering wheat-free loaves from a special source in our nearby town. These are then collected by my wife and pointed out to all present as being for our daughter only — there is plenty of other delicious bread. In spite of all this (the specially ordered bread is expensive, has to be collected, we can’t get another loaf quickly, and we’ve said it several times), her husband still goes on taking pieces! He may be winding up his in-laws, but either way, can you suggest a solution?
— H.B., East Lothian, Scotland

A. The couple must have come to some arrangement in their own home so remove the potential for wind-ups in yours. Your son-in-law, as the house guest of parent figures, may be reverting to childhood habits of sibling rivalry, seeing one favoured ‘child’ being fussed over and made special provision for. Sidestep the problem by asking your daughter to bring her own wheat-free bread.

Q. I have had a birthday card, with felicitations addressed to me only by the one of my two Christian names that I do not use, from a couple who sign only with their own Christian names, and whom I deduce from discreet enquiries to be the headmaster of my old school and his wife. How should I reciprocate this kindness, and under which name? I can probably find out his birthday, but hers might be harder, and might not a card to her, with only her Christian names on it, sow confusion in the household?
— Name and address withheld

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