DEAR NATALIE: A new co-worker I’m getting to know was kind enough to invite me to her baby shower, as we are all so excited. My only issue is the gift I ordered. I went on her registry and ordered several of the books from the list. Okay, I ordered all of the books from the list. And now I’m freaking out because they should come from meaningful relatives who sign them and then the baby relishes them forever. Right? What should I do? –DID I DO A FAUX PAS?
DEAR DID I DO A FAUX PAS: I love that you were so excited that you bought all the books! Over the years, I’ve done the same thing, and had the family sign the books at the shower to make it extra special. What you can do is leave the books unwrapped, set them out at the shower, and encourage everyone in attendance to write a sweet note inside the cover of one or all of them. Of course, first ask the mom-to-be if this is OK with her. Passing the books around and letting people write personal messages inside the books can make everyone feel connected, inspired and joyful. People start talking about their messages with each other and it can be a great bonding opportunity. Embrace this moment and let it be infused with all the love and goodness – and excitement! – that you felt when buying the books. Then, as the baby grows and eventually sees and reads the messages on their own – how very loved and special they will feel!
DEAR NATALIE: I’m a middle school teacher seeking hope and solidarity as we all navigate this scary world. This week I was locked out of a classroom that I was trying to enter to help a student prepare for an upcoming test. The security guard told me I could not get in because the classroom was in the middle of an active shooter drill. The school did not notify me of the drill, and they were unable to provide any other option for where I could go with the student. When I sent an email to the administration, they told me they did not plan on informing me when the drills or other “gun violence preparedness” plans were happening. This is unbelievably saddening, but also stressful and scary. The way these students are constantly having both their education and their emotional states damaged because of lack of gun control is infuriating. I feel so small and confused about how I can use my role as a teacher for good, both in my ecosystem of the school and at large. What would you do, if you were in my position? –WE NEED GUN CONTROL NOW
DEAR WE NEED GUN CONTROL NOW: What kind of world are we creating for our children? It’s maddening on every level. The first thing I would do is inquire with the administration about what their plan is for teachers and students who are locked out of classrooms during a drill. Where were you supposed to report to? Shouldn’t there be a plan for those who aren’t in a classroom at the time? What if your student is in the bathroom or in a different part of the building? What are they to do? A drill is theoretically supposed to prepare you for the worst-case scenario. They can’t only prepare students who are just in a classroom. What’s the plan? I would bring this to their attention and see what they say. In your own classroom, are you allowed to speak about this issue? It seems valuable to ask the kids how they are handling this, and provide a space to talk about their emotions around this. Creating an opportunity for them to share their perspective may be helpful for all of you in how you cope moving forward. The act of the drill is traumatizing in and of itself. No child or adult in a school setting should ever feel unsafe. Outside of school, there are plenty of organizations focused on gun control and legislation. If you want to be a part of something more organized, I suggest looking up community action groups like https://marchforourlives.com/ or https://www.everytown.org/ because the reality is, as long as we sit on the sidelines, we can’t change the game. Good luck to you and your students. May we build them a better world.
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