DEAR ABBY: I'm a licensed cosmetologist with 27 years of experience. My friend "Kara" brought her 4-year-old son in for a haircut two weeks ago. "Damien" would not sit still. He kept pulling the cape over his head, so I finally removed the cape and put it in a corner. As I leaned in to cut his bangs, he spat directly in my face. I told him never to spit on me again, and that I wouldn't cut his hair until he could behave.
In the past Damien has hit me in retaliation because he was in trouble. He once tried to kick me in the head as Kara carried him past me. His parents enforce no consequences for his bad behavior. "Time-outs" consist of him violently kicking the door and throwing things around his room while screaming at the top of his lungs.
I apologized to Kara for becoming upset. It was unprofessional. She apologized for Damien, saying he was just trying to make a funny noise and be silly. I told her I'd like an apology from him, but she told me he was sorry.
In all my years, I have never encountered a kid who behaved as badly as Damien. When a child whips his head and thrashes violently, he could be seriously injured during a haircut. I carry insurance in case of injury, but I'll be darned if I allow him to be my first claim.
How should I handle this? Our friendship seems to have cooled since this incident. Please help me. -- DISRESPECTED STYLIST IN WASHINGTON
DEAR DISRESPECTED: You handled the situation with more grace than many individuals would have. You should follow through on your statement that you won't cut the boy's hair until he can behave. There are salons that cater to small children, equipped with all kinds of distractions so the process isn't intimidating or boring for them. The next time Kara calls, you should pleasantly direct her to one within a l00-mile radius that will "suit her needs." If your friendship with Kara is based upon your willingness to tolerate her child's misbehavior, you'll be lucky to be rid of her.
DEAR ABBY: I was recently on a full three-hour flight. I was assigned an aisle seat instead of a window seat where I would normally sit. When my seatmates -- a couple -- came to take their seats, they were too large to fit so they lifted the armrests to squeeze in. The man said he'd have to keep the rests up and joked that he'd hold his breath so he wouldn't spill over on me.
As the other passengers boarded, I walked back and asked the flight attendant if something could be done. She said the gate attendant could remove the couple and have them each purchase a second seat. I was mortified that they'd be paraded through the plane because of their size, so I said I'd grin and try to bear it.
Big mistake! The husband was in my seat the entire flight. I hugged the armrest in the aisle, which meant everyone who walked by bumped me. I couldn't watch the movie or recline my seat because I no longer had access to the other armrest with the controls, and it was impossible to lower my tray table because it would have rested on his arm.
Abby, it shouldn't have been my responsibility to be the bad guy and object to sharing the seat with that couple. It was unfair to me to suffer because they couldn't fit into their seats. With the expanding waistlines in this country, how do I handle this next time? -- TRISH IN LOUISIANA
DEAR TRISH: Next time, take to heart the flight attendant's suggestion because you have now learned firsthand what will happen if you ignore it.
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