Dear Annie: My husband and I are teachers and are home most of the summer. Our next-door neighbors have two toddler boys and a couple of barking dogs. They are a nice family except for the continuous noise and chaos, which is especially noticeable in the summer when windows are open. We can't enjoy coffee in the morning on our deck or a drink outside in the late afternoon.
I realize that everyone has different parenting styles. Theirs seems to be the "anything goes, let them express themselves" method. I understand that small kids are noisy and throw tantrums. We raised two of our own. But when my kids had a tantrum, they were sent to their rooms until it ended. These kids scream and cry all day long.
I honestly don't know how they can stand it. At least we can shut the windows. Even my low-key husband is fed up. They rarely take the kids out in public, and I can understand why. Is there any recourse for us? I don't mean to sound selfish, but is a little peace and quiet too much to ask for? — Venting in Oregon
Dear Oregon: We understand your frustrations, but you are making a lot of assumptions about these neighbors and their parenting style. It's possible that their toddlers have developmental or physical issues that make it much more difficult to practice the kind of parenting you did.
Why not approach them in a friendly way? Invite them for coffee. Say that the noise levels are rather distressing, and ask whether there is any way they could give you a respite for an hour or two each day. Another alternative is for you to close your windows, add fans, plant bushes, etc., etc. It's not as ideal as having the neighbors be quieter, of course, but it might be the best you can do.
Dear Annie: I recently went through gastric bypass surgery. I have arthritis, and when the weight is off, my knees and hips will be better, and I will have more energy. I've lost 75 pounds so far. My blood pressure has already dropped.
These are all positive things, but thin people don't realize how difficult it is to lose weight. They have no right to ask me, "How much do you want to lose?" or to tell me that if I only walked more, it would help. If I could walk more, I would, but my knees and hips prevent me from doing much of that.
I've been plagued with weight problems all of my life. Being overweight is a personal issue and not one I choose to share with everyone. Unsolicited advice is unwanted advice. — Simi Valley, Calif.
Dear Simi Valley: People can't help noticing that you've lost a great deal of weight, and some feel obligated to comment on it. The fact that they don't know how to do so in a respectful way ("You look great!") is annoying but common. Thank you for reminding folks to put their brains in gear before they open their mouths.
Dear Annie: I had to respond to "N.D. Rose," the 73-year-old who thought basic email etiquette was too difficult to learn. That's just an excuse for laziness. I'm 70 and have no problem using my computer effectively, but I had to make the effort to learn the necessary skills. I know a man who was in his 80s when he got his first computer, and he was soon emailing old friends all over the country without appearing to yell at them.
Most communities with a senior center or a library offer a variety of computer courses, free or low-cost. There are also online tutorials. Family members who are computer literate can also help.
I get annoyed and discouraged when people my age reinforce the stereotype that we are too old to learn. Thanks for letting me rant. — Ontario, Calif.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.