Dear Annie: You printed a letter from “Concerned in Galesburg, Ill.,” about photographing naked babies. I have a slightly different problem, but it’s in a similar vein.
I have a toddler grandson. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but our daughter-in-law has close to 500 pictures of the boy naked, from birth to his second birthday. She also has videos of him naked in the bathroom, recording him for several minutes while he’s getting ready to take his bath.
My son and I have talked about this, and he, too, finds this to be odd behavior. A few pictures would be normal, but 500 seems excessive for anyone. Neither of us has talked to her about this. She has since taken the boy and moved out. We do not consider this pornography, but we cannot understand why there are so many photos. Can you help? — Concerned Grandmother
Dear Grandmother: We would be concerned, too. New parents often take hundreds of pictures of their children, but 500 naked photos and videos is excessive by any standard. Add to that your daughter-in-law’s taking the boy and leaving the home, and we worry that she is using these photos for purposes other than a personal record. There may be nothing going on, but your son needs to be vigilant. He should visit with the boy often and not be afraid to ask his wife about the photos and videos. He also should seek legal counsel if they do not reconcile soon.
Dear Annie: I am a highly educated individual who speaks English as a second language. Sometimes I have to deal with customers over the telephone. There have been instances in which I have been told, “Your English is terrible” or “Call me back when you learn the language.”
It’s not as if these individuals have a Ph.D. in English. Their grammatical mistakes are horrible. Just because English is their first language does not mean they have finished elementary school. Who are they to pass judgment over foreigners speaking English?
Annie, what should people in my situation tell these very rude people? I doubt they understand the meaning of the word “xenophobia.” There are many hardworking, productive people in this country with an accent. Please tell your readers to try to understand how difficult it is to learn another language and to stop being so disrespectful to us. — Sick of Xenophobes in Jeffersonville, Ind.
Dear Indiana: Agreed, and we hope our readers are paying attention. These rude people are not commenting on your language skills or your intelligence. They are telling you that your accent is too thick for them to understand what you are saying. Of course, this doesn’t excuse them.
The polite response when you don’t understand someone is, “Excuse me. I didn’t catch that. Could you please repeat it more slowly?” There is absolutely no reason to be insulting. When faced with such disrespect, your best response is to be polite and patient.
Dear Annie: I was very touched by the letter from “Miserable Forever,” whose husband is emotionally and financially abusive. You advised her to get out of the marriage and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
I would like to add that she may want to contact her local legal aid office. Also, most states have an attorney referral service, and in some states, attorneys are required to take cases pro bono (free of charge). She may want to look at these resources and see whether she can find an attorney who will take her case for free or at low cost. — Martha
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 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.