For two years, when I was in graduate school, I was the after-school babysitter of a great kid, who is now 8. A few months ago, she got an Instagram account, and we began to follow each other. Now, she’s sending me loads of private messages: “I’m in Vermont!!!” Or: “Want to have an emoji battle??” I have no idea what the protocol is here. It feels weird to chat with her by private messenger. Should I reach out to her parents? What would I say to them?
Definitely contact the parents. By its own flimsy membership rules, Instagram prohibits accounts to children under 13. (But how clever must a child be, really, to calculate the birth year of a 13-year-old when signing up?) Send a friendly note to the parents telling them that their daughter has an account and is private messaging you.
If they’re not aware of the age restriction, the mature content of many Instagram Stories or the risks to children of posting pictures of themselves online, clue them in. Ask: “Shall I respond to her messages? I don’t want to encourage underage use, but maybe you’re logging in alongside her?” Kids can be crafty (and enterprising), but unaccompanied roaming on social media can lead to danger in real life.
Who Gets to Give a Eulogy?
My father passed away this week. I am the executor of his estate and in charge of his funeral arrangements. My sister offered to pay for the service and reception; I accepted. She then invited my brother to give the eulogy. But he’s only visited my father three times in the past 13 years. I asked the minister to prepare a service without a eulogy. Still, I’m afraid that my brother will insist on speaking. I told him there will be no eulogy, and now I’m being called nasty names. Any advice?
I’m sorry for your loss, M.H. But I am also sorry for your brother’s and sister’s loss, whether they saw your father three times or 3,000 times over the past 13 years. You are all suffering. And if I am reading between the lines correctly, I disagree with your implication that attentive children mourn their parents with greater entitlement (or more deeply) than prodigal ones do.
Now is a time for coming together with your siblings (or trying to, at least). Be generous in planning the service and mindful that each of you had a different, but probably still formative, relationship with your dad. Funerals can be powerful rites in helping us begin to process loss. Don’t shortchange anyone simply because you can.
What’s the harm in letting your brother (or sister, or all of you) say a few words at the service? There may even be others who wish to speak. Simply ask them to be brief so the funeral isn’t Wagnerian in length.
But it’s not necessary for you, as executor, to judge whether your brother was a good enough son to merit a speaking berth. These are rough days. Take care of yourself and each other.
What Happens Off Court Is No One’s Business
I am a divorced woman, 44, who took up tennis this summer. The instructor of our beginner group was a young man of 23. In August, he asked me out for a drink. I was shocked! (But I said yes.) One thing led to another, and now we are sleeping together. I’m fond of him, but I have no idea how this will turn out. I met his mother, once, during the summer. We were in different tennis groups. But she’s closer to my age than I am to her son’s. Should I tell her what’s going on?
The best novel I read this summer, “The Only Story,” by Julian Barnes, bears an uncanny similarity to your question, though it is narrated by the much younger man and turns out to be a heartbreaking story of love and memory. Read it!
And don’t say a word to the tennis pro’s mother. If the young man is of age and is sufficiently adult to engage you, you don’t need his mother’s permission to date him. It is his call when to tell her. Only keep in mind another piece of fiction (that occasionally proves true in relationships): Age is just a number.
Guess Who’s Not Invited Back to the Club
I invited a friend to our club for lunch and a swim. She was once a member but is not any longer. During the afternoon, she said, several times, “They’ve changed things here — for the worse.” I found this ungracious. I replied: “Well, it works for us. We’re pleased.” What more could I have said?
Call me bougie, but I have nursed a lifelong dream of signing to my club account the bill for a Cobb salad and glass of Chablis, as I sink back onto my chaise longue. You replied perfectly, Carol.
Your statement was positive and would have caused a normal person to refrain from disparaging the club further. The fact that it didn’t stop your friend says more about her ingratitude than your comeback. No need to take this further — or invite her again.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.