Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Lunch Eater Wants to Move Away From Loud People

DEAR HARRIETTE: I often go to fast-food restaurants for lunch. It is quick, affordable and delicious, at least the place that I go to. I usually go by myself because I have only a short time for my lunch break at work.

Is it when rude to relocate yourself if a group of loud strangers seats themselves directly next to you? For example, I usually get a burrito for lunch and sit at the bar. A group of a dozen teenagers will decide to set up camp directly behind me, even though there are many open tables in this space. Could I move because I have good reason to want to enjoy my lunch in peace? -- Alone Time, Phoenix

DEAR ALONE TIME: You have every right to eat in peace, even in a fast-food restaurant. Of course you can get up and move if a group of noisy diners sits next to you. Don’t give it a second thought. Also, be mindful not to judge them. They are enjoying themselves as well. Since you are not dining in a quiet restaurant, you cannot expect silence. You can distance yourself from loud diners, but do so with a smile on your face.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in a predicament where I feel inadequate as a mother. I was studying with my 12-year-old daughter, and I realized that I don't know how to help her academically anymore. I was fine through elementary school curriculum, but I can’t seem to remember the specifics.

My father helped me with schoolwork through high school, so I feel like a dud, unable to help my daughter. Should I study up or suggest she get help after school? -- Forgotten Knowledge, Gary, Indiana

DEAR FORGOTTEN KNOWLEDGE: I feel your pain, as I am in a very similar place with my 13-year-old. I know some things, but there’s a lot that makes no sense to me. I have discovered that there are a few things you can do to stay connected to your child as you ensure that she gets the support she needs.

For starters, you can continue to listen to your daughter share various homework assignments with you. Her articulating her lessons out loud is helpful to her, even if you don’t understand. Listen carefully to see what you can pick up. Do not pretend to know the answers if you don’t know them. Be honest.

Be sure to get your daughter additional help. She should know if there are study sessions or tutoring opportunities at the school. You can also contact her teacher and ask for recommendations for academic support available at school -- many offer before- or after-school study sessions. If this is not available, consider hiring a tutor to help your daughter in areas where she needs it.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)