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home : columns : dear harriette February 5, 2016

5/9/2014 10:40:00 AM
Kids' violin practice upsets neighbor

DEAR HARRIETTE: My next-door neighbor has two young children who play the violin. I don't mind listening to them practice during the day if I'm at home -- it's sweet to know that they are learning an instrument. It stops being sweet, though, when the playing extends way into the night. The other day, these two kids were bowing those strings at around 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night. I thought that was way too much.

I don't want to be the nasty neighbor, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that loud music -- even when it's live -- should stop before 11. What do you think? And should I say anything about it? -- Sensitive to Sound, Washington, D.C.

DEAR SENSITIVE TO SOUND: You have mentioned only an isolated incident when you heard the children playing very late. Who knows why they were playing at that time? Perhaps they were playing for guests or for some other one-time reason. If late-night playing becomes a habit for them, that's when you can speak to the parents and request that they end their playing a little earlier on weeknights. Otherwise, just take a deep breath and be grateful that the violins are not drums!

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 15-year-old daughter just informed me that she thinks she contracted a sexually transmitted disease. I could not believe my ears. I didn't even know that she was sexually active -- and I wouldn't call myself naive. We have talked about sexual activity, protection, our values -- the whole nine yards -- for years. Anyhow, she learned she might have this from the boy she had sex with who told her he had it. I suppose we should be grateful that he said something, but OMG, what are we going to do? Do we go to her pediatrician about this? I'm embarrassed to tell him, but she doesn't have a gynecologist yet. I am mortified. What should I do? -- Shamed by STD, Syracuse, N.Y.

DEAR SHAMED BY STD: Your job as your daughter's parent is to get her immediate medical care. Ideally, you should go to a pediatrician who knows her health history. If you feel too uncomfortable to do that, you can go to one of those urgent care facilities where your daughter can be tested and she can receive whatever treatment is deemed necessary.  

Be sure to tell the doctor that you visit what STD the boy says he has contracted so that they definitely test for that as well as the rest of the STDs, including HIV. Then follow up with your pediatrician at some point to update your daughter's chart. Further, since she is sexually active, it is time to go to a gynecologist. Find one who works with teenagers and who can help you educate your daughter about safer sexual behavior. While you may not want your daughter to continue to be sexually active, you probably cannot control that, so your job now is to guide her to be as responsible as possible. For support in talking to your daughter about sex, visit

(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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