DEAR ANNIE: I have a close acquaintance who is a fitness instructor at the health club where I often work out. Two years ago, I saw her at a local peace parade and got very worked up over something she wrote on the signs she was wearing. I became so crazed over it that I forgot myself and said some awful things about her. I also stopped going to her workout classes for a month and deleted her Facebook pages. Then I found out her husband had had a stroke the day of the parade.
I realized how hideous my behavior had been. I returned to her workout class and intended to apologize profusely to her, but she wasn’t there that day. When she finally came back, I told her I’d been praying for her and her husband.
Sometimes it seems she has forgiven me and everything is the same between us, but on other days, I’m not so sure. I apologized to her, in a general way, in a holiday greeting card, not mentioning the parade. I’ve lost countless hours of sleep crying from guilt, shame and regret. I’ve finally decided I have to do something. Please print this so she can see it and we can talk about it. — Distraught
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: Printing this in the paper and hoping she sees it is a copout. You need to put your spine in place and talk to her directly, no matter how hard it is. A semi-apology in a holiday greeting card doesn’t count, and telling her you will pray for her is kind, but insufficient.
Ask your friend whether she is available for coffee, or find some other time when neither of you is rushed and you can speak privately. Here’s what you say: “I know it’s been a while, but I need to tell you how sorry I am for my behavior at the parade and afterward. I don’t know what came over me. I value our friendship a great deal, and I am hoping you can forgive me.” Whatever happens after that, at least you will know you truly tried to make it right.
DEAR ANNIE: “Grandma” has every right to be concerned about her stepson’s nearly 3-year-old child who barely speaks. She should follow her instincts and strongly encourage that the girl be assessed by a speech therapist. The lack of expressive language could also be a sign of autism.
While the suggestions to spend more time interacting with the child are great, professional intervention might be necessary. It is deplorable that the pediatrician has not caught this, as early intervention can change the trajectory of a child’s life.
As a special education teacher over the past 10 years, I’ve seen the terrible repercussions caused by the lack of early intervention and the overworked school systems that regularly miss identifying these needs. — Concerned Special Ed Teacher
DEAR TEACHER: Several readers pointed out that the lack of speech could be a sign of autism. Others told us that their kids didn’t speak much at that age and turned out just fine. There’s no way for us to know what’s going on, but we absolutely concur that the child should be evaluated by a speech therapist to find out. Unfortunately, that is Dad’s call, and he seems disinclined to do anything. If “Grandma” can take her, wonderful. If not, talking and reading to this little girl could be a godsend.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.