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home : columns : dear harriette October 26, 2020

9/7/2020 8:12:00 AM
Reader concerned with friend's party plans

D EAR HARRIETTE: I have been enjoying a bit of socializing this summer -- at a distance -- with people in my beach community. We have had two couples over for dinner, and we all made sure that we were never too close to each other, especially when we were eating, since we had our masks off.

The other day, my friend said she wanted to host an event that is slightly larger to end the summer. Since it would be right after Labor Day, she thought it would be all right to have more people -- like 20. I'm so nervous about this. Even though I know the people, I worry that bringing that many people together could be dangerous. How should I handle this? -- Social Distancing

DEAR SOCIAL DISTANCING: Trust your gut. If you feel that the group in question may be too large, pare it down a bit. Talk to your friend about your concerns, and discuss a compromise or other ways to configure the event.

For example, can everything be done outside? Perhaps you can serve individual-size drinks and food items so that nobody has to touch things twice. Space out seating so that people are at least 6 feet apart. Place hand sanitizer in clear view. Put wipes in the bathroom, and instruct guests to wipe down the sink and seat with each use. If you can remain vigilant throughout the party, you may be able to host an ode to summer safely -- even if it is smaller than the original vision.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is so nervous about starting school that she has developed hives. She is normally a late sleeper, but recently she has been waking in the middle of the night freaked out because her face, neck and arms are covered with hives. I have applied calamine lotion to her skin and sat and rocked her like I did when she was a baby, but it takes hours for them to die down. I haven't wanted to disturb her doctor since this is not a dire emergency, but I'm at my wit's end. What should I do? -- Hives

DEAR HIVES: Call your daughter's pediatrician immediately and describe what is happening. For the hives, there is likely a topical or internal medication that can be prescribed to neutralize them.

Beyond that, have your daughter talk to the doctor and explain what's going on. Is she having nightmares? What is inhabiting her thoughts? What are her concerns about school? As you listen, think about what you can do to support her. Has her school determined whether it will have remote learning or a hybrid? What do you feel comfortable with? Listen as intently as you can so that you can determine how best to calm your daughter and plan for the school year. This is a time of tremendous uncertainty. Be honest about what you don't know, but also reinforce that you will do all in your power to protect her.

Her doctor may want her to speak with a mental health specialist to help her navigate her feelings. Support whatever recommendation the pediatrician has as you begin this new chapter.

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.

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