DEAR AMY: I'm married, with a 9-year-old son. My sweet boy is very affectionate, but really only with me. He climbs on me, hangs on me, etc.
He is not emotionally disturbed or shy; he just does this to annoy me. I'm not very touchy-feely. I get hot when people are too close. My husband knew this about me before we married and was fine with it.
I have tried to explain this to my son, but he doesn't care. I have had this problem my whole life. The only exercise I can do is swimming because I loathe sweating and being too hot. I have had my thyroid checked, and everything is normal.
How do I make my son understand that it's not him and that I love him, but his crawling on me makes me cringe. I dread menopause!
— Too Hot
DEAR TOO HOT: Your son knows you love him. He also knows that what he's doing is annoying.
His behavior is typical for a 9-year-old. Some kids this age will actually place their hands on either side of their mom's face and pull it toward them if she is trying to have a conversation with someone else. Others will grab attention by clowning around and/or treating their mother like a jungle gym.
All of this is a way to command and keep mom's attention. It's also a child's way to resist the transition into being a "big kid," with all of its confusing uncertainty.
You should react calmly, consistently and with a minimum of fuss.
In a quiet moment, explain to your son that he is getting physically bigger and that he can hurt you by climbing on you. Tell him that from now on you're going to expect him not to do this. Tell him that if he forgets his good manners and starts climbing on you, you're going to remind him one time, and then you're going to ask him to leave the room if he does it again.
It's time for your husband to step up. He should assume a bigger role in your son's life, providing a positive presence and gently leading him into the mysterious world of male adolescence.
DEAR AMY: A family member offered to do something "special" for my birthday earlier this year.
It took several weeks to find dates that worked for her, which she canceled twice. She continued to mention the idea but didn't propose any new dates.
The situation was becoming awkward, so I thanked her for the thought and proposed we try again next year. Now, five months later, she has brought up her intention of doing something "special" for my birthday now that things have quieted down for her.
While I understood her being unavailable at the time, it seems a bit narcissistic of her to want to celebrate my birthday now that it's convenient for her. Do you find this idea as unappealing as I do, or am I being overly sensitive?
— No Longer the Birthday Girl
DEAR NO LONGER: I'm not sure that I would call this behavior "narcissistic," but I agree that this is self-centered and silly. It is also embarrassing to you, although you could assume your family member doesn't see it that way.
When this comes up again, you can say, "You're sweet to be so persistent, but let's not do the whole birthday thing. But it would be great to see you, and if you want to get together, I'll check my schedule." Fulfilling this social commitment will at the very least clear it from the calendar. If this comes up again in a few months when your birthday rolls around, politely decline.
DEAR AMY: You recently quoted Maya Angelou in a response by saying, "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them."
This is truly profound. I'm grateful to Ms. Angelou for saying it and to you for sharing it.
— See the Light
DEAR LIGHT: The most profound statements are often simple directives. This one is particularly wise, fairly hard to follow and most often recognized in retrospect.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson’s memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.