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First World Problems: A Note with No Name

Article Icon - First World ProblemsFirst World Problems is a funny advice column for India’s first world population. Write to Judy (confidentially!) at if you’ve broken a nail, felt a little blue, yellow or green lately,
or had a strange encounter of the any-numbered kind.


PROBLEM: An assistant teacher at my son’s toddler football class gave my son a small toy on his birthday. I think I need to say thank you — but I don’t know his name! And my son is no help. How do I thank him without giving myself away?

Call me paranoid but the only question on my mind right now is: Why is Mysterious Assistant Teacher handing out toys to your toddler? I mean, is that the norm these days? What am I missing – are teachers allowed to distribute birthday gifts to students in this school? I suppose I’d even be alright if Mysterious Assistant Teacher was in the habit of bringing birthday gifts for all toddlers. But if my toddler is special, that would be worrying and would call for a different kind of note.

And now that I’ve given you enough to keep you up many nights in a row, I’m pretty sure he’s harmless. In fact, 97.8%* of the time in this country, it’s just a case of well-meaning people not knowing any better.

Coming to your question, address him by some made-up toddler endearment (like Bijkooo or something) and insist that you can’t keep track of anyone’s real names because “my little man insists on calling you by his own adorable made-up name.” Aww. What’s not to love about you? You’re doing this parenting totally right.

You’re welcome.

(*Unscientific, but personally tested stat.)

PROBLEM: A few kittens and a dog loiter around my building and I feed them every evening. Recently, a neighbor and her small son have been there while I do it. The son likes to run at the cats and dogs and be very rough. His mother makes no attempt to correct him and show him how to behave with animals in a way that doesn’t scare them. Is it right for me to step in and do so?

Absolutely. Most parents who don’t teach kids how to behave with animals aren’t very good with animals themselves. So, yes, it’s totally all right for you to step in and educate. Just make sure you know how to behave with humans though. (Heh heh heh)


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