Miss Manners: Proposed ‘thank-you vacation’ won’t be a vacation at all

July 8 at 12:00 AM

Dear Miss Manners: I am staying at home with my two teenage daughters. My parents, who live about 10 minutes away, are elderly and very vulnerable to the virus. They are observing strict quarantine and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

I have been doing all their errands for them: delivering groceries, picking up medications, bringing over home-cooked meals etc. Given that they are also forgetful, this sometimes requires me going over there two or three times a day, maintaining social distance from my dad on the porch while he wipes down my purchases, or talking to my mother by phone while waving at her bedroom window.

Believe it or not, this has been my pleasure, and I’m happy I have the time and opportunity to help them.

Now my parents are talking about taking me away for a vacation when “this is all over,” as a thank-you. I don’t want to go. I’m a single mom, and although I have not lost my job (I can telecommute), I don’t have a lot of savings. I can think of many better ways to use the money that would be spent on this trip.

Also, due to their age and (probably) fear and uncertainty, my parents bicker. A lot. A month with them would be me running and fetching and carrying and acting as a sounding board/referee. It wouldn’t be a vacation for me at all.

If we go to the beach, as they are hinting, my mother would stay in the rental property, and either my dad or I would have to stay with her at all times. I would be cooking the meals, playing board games with them, sharing cleaning and laundry chores with my dad, shopping, etc.

How do I escape this not-vacation?

The same way you avoided coming to the dinner table as a child: by claiming you will be there any minute. More specifically, Miss Manners is suggesting you quibble over the date, not the premise: “I would love to, but with everything that has happened, this year just is not going to work.”

Dear Miss Manners: If you’re wearing a mask, do you have to cover your mouth when you yawn? Or is the mask sufficient?

Who can tell?

Dear Miss Manners: What is the proper way to break off mutual friendships you have with an ex, so that no one feels offended?

I don’t want a painful reminder of the ex who broke my heart. My mutual friends are not taking it well, with me breaking up with them; they readily side with the ex and call me childish for the whole thing.

No one wants to be told that their presence stirs painful memories. So if you do not want to be accused of overreacting, keep your reasons to yourself.

Miss Manners trusts you can find less offensive excuses for declining invitations. This is not quick — you may need to decline multiple invitations — but it is proper.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

2020, by Judith Martin