Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I are both doctors (myself an M.D., he a Ph.D.). Often when we receive wedding invitations, the RSVP card has a line that starts with "M" and then a blank, presumably to write your name.
It seems wrong to write "Mr. and Mrs." especially if the invitations were addressed to "Drs.," but I don't want to seem pretentious writing "Drs." over it. I panic every time this happens. Help!
Gentle reader: It is always interesting to see what makes other people squeamish. As an M.D., you are no doubt familiar with the phenomenon. Miss Manners herself has no qualms about crossing out a stray letter in the interest of correcting a careless form.
No need to childproof
Dear Miss Manners: My new home has a perfect spot for bonfires. I mentioned to an acquaintance that I'm eager to host a summertime barbecue and bonfire, and said guests would be welcome to bring their families. I assumed that roasting marshmallows would be fun for the children, and would save the parents the trouble of finding child care.
This acquaintance has two young daughters, ages 3 and 4. She responded by commenting that I would, of course, childproof my home, and asked exactly how I would keep the children from the fire: Was I planning on a fence, or would there be supervision?
Aside from the obvious, like ensuring that bleach and knives were out of the reach, I hadn't really planned on any childproofing, and have to admit that I had the expectation that any parents bringing children would take responsibility for watching them.
She does bring up a valid point: I have invited guests to bring their children, and therefore, it follows that I have an obligation to accommodate these young guests. On the other hand, I'm not running a day care.
I've clearly indicated the nature of the event to my guests, and believe that they should judge whether the event is appropriate for their young ones. It's not unreasonable for me to expect them to assume that my childless home will not be fully childproofed, is it?
Gentle reader: Your assumption is not unreasonable, although Miss Manners suspects your acquaintance would disagree. Unless childproofing appeals to you as a design aesthetic, your problem is not how to dispose of every conceivably dangerous temptation to small hands, but how to dispose of an already-invited guest.
The solution is to gently confirm her fears by agreeing that perhaps she is right that this is not a good event for children since there are so many things that you will not be able to childproof completely. It would be rude to rescind an invitation, but your apologetic concern for her children can only be appreciated.
"Miss Manners" is Judith Martin of the Washington Post. Send questions to her website, missmanners.com.