Ask Amy

DEAR AMY: I am a high school teacher and 5th-grade basketball coach. I was coaching a 5th-grade practice when a disgruntled parent walked into the gym with 10 minutes left to go and started verbally harassing me.

I did not want to start a physical altercation or give him any reason to start one, so I handed him the ball nicely and walked away. I did not try to negotiate with him. The children’s safety was not at stake, but I felt mine was.

I walked outside the gym and sat in my truck because I didn’t have access to a phone inside the gym.  There were five to 10 parents and children in the gym who witnessed the event.

Afterward, the parents told me that the disgruntled parent just yelled at the kids to go home. No one was hurt.

The school superintendent charged me with leaving the kids unsupervised. He tried to say I could have called the police or done a better job controlling the parent.

I felt I handled the situation well by walking away.

Does the school have a right to charge me with leaving the children unattended when my own personal safety was at stake? — Tired Teacher

DEAR TEACHER: I’m with the school.

You were right to avoid an altercation, but you should never have left a group of young children with a man you found frightening.

It is smart sometimes to walk away from a bully, but you could have walked to the sideline while you got your thoughts together, and it doesn’t sound like you used your time in your truck to call the police, the school or another coach who might have filled in during your absence. It also doesn’t sound like you reassured the kids before bolting.

Your school should provide you with concrete guidance about how to handle situations like this.

DEAR AMY: I am a newly married woman and have taken my husband’s last name. Let’s call him Roger Fullname.

Recently a package arrived for me from my mother, and it was addressed to Mrs. Roger Fullname. I find this designation offensive.

I’m sure that my mother didn’t mean any disrespect. However, it says to me that I am no longer my own person but merely my husband’s wife.

Am I being too sensitive? What can I say to anyone who may address me in this manner? — Sharon

DEAR SHARON: You are Mrs. Roger Fullname. When people use the title “Mrs.,” they should follow it with your husband’s name, because what this designation says is that you are “wife of Roger Fullname.” Sometimes people do this to newly married women because they think it’s cute.

When not using “Mrs.,” you should be addressed as Sharon Fullname. This way of standardizing titles isn’t meant to offend you or take away your individual identity.

Tell your mother that you prefer to be addressed as Sharon Fullname, or, better yet, “Honey.”

Send questions to askamy@tribune.com or to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan

About Chris Elkins

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