On responding to a friend's serious illness:
Carolyn: On two occasions I have had friends with extended treatments for illnesses. Neither of them could be around people because of immunity issues and the treatments were exhausting.
In addition to occasional calls to find out how they were doing, I sent cards. But the cards were never "get well" or "thinking of you." I sent graduation cards, new baby cards, retirement cards, bar mitzvah cards, bon voyage cards, whatever odd card I could find. The result was the friends knew I was thinking of them and had a little laugh at the content.
On teaching manners to kids:
Carolyn: We taught our daughter good manners by having Bad Manners Night.
I served spaghetti for maximum slurping, elbows were all over the table, we talked with food in our mouths, etc..
After that, we could say things like, ohhhhh, I see you put your knife in your mouth, you should remember to do that the next time we have Bad Manners Night. It totally worked. She would catch us, too, which was part of the fun.
We had Bad Manners Night a couple of times but decided to shut it down after we included my parents, and Dad came to the table without a shirt. No way to top that.
Carolyn: When my first husband and I announced to my parents that we were getting married, the following conversation ensued:
Mom: "You'll have to have the rehearsal dinner somewhere with dancing."
Dad: "I'll pay you a thousand dollars to elope."
Mom: "Oh Bruce. You'll have to have a breakfast, too. For the people coming from out of town."
Dad: "Two thousand."
Mom: "What colors do you want for the reception?"
Dad: "Five thousand."
We eloped to Greece.
Email email@example.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.