Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: What do you do when you get a gift that you know was a re-gift -- and it does not work? My boss gave me a coffee pot, and when I plugged it in, it wouldn't work. The box said that the coffee pot came with a variety of coffee, and none of it was in there. I think she got it as a gift and meant to take it back to the store but forgot. My boss knows that I love coffee, and I think that's why she thought to give it to me. Anyhow, it backfired, because it was busted. I don't want to embarrass her, but what do I do? Do I say something or not? -- Not Gifted, Miami

DEAR NOT GIFTED: It sounds like your boss had good intentions even though they didn't work out. I would not mention to her that the coffee pot didn't work. You can try to get it repaired, give it to charity or throw it out if you think it cannot be repaired.

As far as re-gifting in general, I like it up to a point. If you were given something that you know another would appreciate AND it is in good working condition, by all means share it. What you shouldn't do is pretend that you bought it when you didn't. You may even say that the item was given to you and you thought that the person in question would appreciate it. Being honest in the gift-giving process is what makes it work.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 7-year-old son was invited to a sleepover, and he wants to go. He is worried, though, because sometimes he still wets the bed. I do not want to embarrass him by saying something to the host mom, but how do I handle it to make sure he doesn't spoil their furniture if he has an accident? -- Concerned, Syracuse, N.Y.

DEAR CONCERNED: Rest assured that your son is not the only one who is late to the party on this point. Unfortunately, it can take some children longer to be able to control their bladder than others. A practice you can start at home is to limit liquid intake to a couple of hours before bedtime. Make sure he knows to go to the bathroom and empty his bladder before getting in the bed.

Invest in pull-up diapers if he is small enough, or even the adult-size diapers that are used for adults with incontinence. He can wear loose-fitting pajama bottoms so no one is the wiser. This will help him to feel more confident going to sleep at the party. Do not keep up the use of the diapers at home, though, because the goal is to get him to know when to get up and relieve himself. It may take a little extra time, but eventually he will be able to do it.

He will likely greatly appreciate you getting him the diapers for the party, so that he can feel confident among his peers.