Dear Annie: My 5-year-old son has been claiming to see the paranormal. I'm sure part of it is just his imagination. But sometimes he describes in great detail people and even pets who have died. He mainly claims to see a cousin he never met, but whom he can describe accurately. Sometimes, he will sit up in bed and start talking to a wall, saying he is talking to his cousin.
Now he says he can see someone else. He isn't sure who it is, but it frightens him. My son won't even walk past the bedroom door without me or another adult with him and the bedroom light on.
We don't let him watch scary movies or anything like that. Is it possible that he is really seeing these things? I've mentioned it to a few different ministers who just laughed it off and said there is no such thing as the paranormal. Any advice would be appreciated. - A Fan of Your Work
Dear Fan: The fact that your son doesn't watch scary movies does not mean he hasn't been exposed to ads for them or comments from friends. Nonetheless, our concern is not that your son is making it up. Sometimes manifestations of the paranormal can indicate a medical problem. Please take him to his doctor for a complete checkup, including a neurological exam.
Dear Annie: A couple in our social circle have developed a disgusting habit in recent years, and no one knows how to approach them about it. These people blow their noses at the dinner table every time they sit down and then return their dirty tissues to their pockets and carry on eating. This is not just a gentle dab at the end of the nose. It's a full-blown empty-the-sinus kind of thing.
These people are well educated with good jobs. I'm sure they would be devastated if we said something, but it has reached the point where we no longer accept dinner invitations if we know they will be there, because this nose blowing turns our stomachs. We can't understand how no one in their family has mentioned it to them.
Is this a social faux pas, or are we too picky? - Disgusted
Dear Disgusted: It is definitely a social faux pas to blow one's nose at the dinner table. One can wipe a sniffle, but blasting more than that should be done in the privacy of the bathroom. Should it happen again in your presence, simply say, "My goodness, Horace! Your allergies must be getting worse. You'd make all of us more comfortable if you used the powder room to take care of that."
The two of them may be mildly miffed, but making people sick at the dinner table is not appropriate.
Dear Annie: I would like to contribute to the responses to "Frustrated with Noise," who complained about young children in church.
When my sons were small, they were a wild bunch running down the aisles of our synagogue. Our rabbi never reprimanded them. If a baby cried during services, the rabbi would always ask the parents not to remove the child.
One day he explained: He was a Holocaust survivor. The first year after he was liberated from the concentration camp, there were no children at services. They had all been murdered.
After a year or so, people started to have children again. Babies were born. At the first service with children in attendance, there was the sound of babies crying. It was such a joyful sound that our rabbi never again wanted to preside over a service without the sound of children. - Agoura Hills, Calif.