Dear Ann: I am the oldest of three children. Last year, I gave my parents a surprise 50th wedding anniversary party. It was lovely, and everyone had a great time.
Here's the problem: During the planning of the party, two of my mother's closest friends said it was not my parents' 50th anniversary, but rather their 49th. I thought they must be mistaken, but I found out later it is true. That means my mother was three months' pregnant with me when she got married.
I am so upset about this news, it is all I think about. More importantly, I am disturbed about why it was kept a secret. I am 49 years old, for heaven's sake. I am not a child. My parents should have let me in on the revelation before now.
I feel like a fool because all my parents' friends and relatives knew the truth, but went on letting me plan a big anniversary party on the wrong date. I feel the least they can do now is tell me the whole story, but my parents say it is "none of my business." I am deeply resentful of all this secrecy. Please tell me how to approach my parents and get the answers I need. Lied To in San Diego, Calif.
Dear Lied To: You are 49 years old and have just learned that your mother was pregnant when she married, and now you feel the need to be told "the whole story." Get real, for Pete's sake. You already know "the whole story." That's all there is there ain't no more.
Those two so-called friends of your mother who gave you this earth-shaking update 50 years after the happening are candidates for my "Skunk at the Family Picnic" award. Please present it to them, since I have no plans to be in San Diego to do the honors.
Dear Ann: You recently printed a letter from "Relieved Mother in Texas" who said to keep syrup of ipecac and the number of the doctor by the phone in case a child swallows something dangerous.
This was good advice, but I'd like to add a few things. Syrup of ipecac will induce vomiting. This is not always a good idea. If the child has swallowed certain chemicals, it can cause damage if there is vomiting. Also, sometimes it is not possible to reach the doctor. Make sure to have the number for the local poison control by the phone, as well. And finally, a child may swallow something that can be absorbed into the skin. Even if the child vomits, it may not help. It is important that any child who ingests a poisonous substance seek medical care at the nearest emergency room at once, even if the immediate danger seems to have passed. There may be damage that is not visible.
Please tell parents to call poison control FIRST, then the doctor. Only if it is recommended should they then give the child syrup of ipecac (or, in some instances, activated charcoal, although never both at the same time). Afterward, the child should visit the emergency room to be sure everything is OK. It also wouldn't hurt the parents to get first aid and CPR training. The local Red Cross chapter, fire department or department of health can tell you where courses are available. Richard C. Berger, New York State Emergency Medical Technician
Dear Richard Berger: Thank you for filling in the missing pieces and giving my readers some valuable information. I appreciate your input, and I'm sure they will, too.
Gem of the Day (credit the incomparable Woody Allen): I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead. Not sick not wounded dead.