Fanning reactions to classroom hot flashes

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Dear Amy: I am a high school math teacher. I am having frequent and intense hot flashes in class while standing in front of a group of juniors and seniors.

How do I address with my students the fact that I am suddenly bright red and soaking wet? I do not think it is appropriate to explain that I am having menopausal hot flashes.

— The Teach

Dear Teach: You know your students and their capabilities and maturity level, so if you don't think it's appropriate to disclose the very commonplace and factual reason for your sudden and obvious physical manifestations, then I suggest you keep a fan handy and simply deal with your symptoms with no explanation. Just say "Excuse me a minute" and peel off your sweater, take a drink of cool water, and fan yourself until it passes.

However, I think you run the risk of creating confusion (or rumors because of misinformation) when it could be dispatched and dealt with fairly quickly. Let's say you have a sudden hot flash in fifth-period calculus. You can say, "Sorry, class, I'm having a hot flash. Let me fan myself and take a drink of water and it should go away in a minute. Whew!"

Any students who are sufficiently fascinated can very easily do an Internet search to discover what's going on and the reason behind it. Soon enough this will become just another aspect of the natural and quirky progression of your day.

When I ran your question past a high schooler in my life, she said, "Nobody really notices what's going on with the teachers anyway." This is a reminder that what happens to you in the moment might not have a proportional impact on your students.

Dear Amy: I have a very dear lifelong friend who has been a spiritual mentor, but over the past few years she has become increasingly engaged in Facebook romances — all the while complaining about her husband and alleging that he's doing the same kind of thing.

I don't want to judge but I feel compromised when she talks about her online "friends," especially since she has not addressed the problems within her marriage over the years. She has a short fuse if she gets the slightest whiff of criticism. I have tried discussing this with her, and suffered the consequences.

I want to keep the friendship, but I'd like to close the door on being told of online romances that feel unsavory — until such time as she clears a pathway to resolve her marital situation. What's the best way to approach this?

— Friend in Need

Dear Friend: Based on what you report, it is really tough to see what about this person makes her an adequate friend, not to mention "spiritual mentor."

Friends tell the truth to one another. Friends don't slam the door to correction or reflection when it is offered with affection. They do their best to listen.

I take you at your word that you want to stay friends with this manipulative train wreck. And so, given the limitations she is placing on you, if you want to stay friends you will have to stop her at the pass when she starts emoting about her Facebook romances. Practice saying this: "This makes me uncomfortable. Let's change the subject, OK?"

Dear Amy: "Acting Foolish" was thinking about skipping his stepdaughter's wedding because she was choosing her biological father to walk her down the aisle.

If he doesn't attend the wedding, he will regret it. He should put on his big-boy boots and be there for his stepdaughter, regardless of whether he gets the honor of walking her down the aisle. Who knows? He just might be the one she chooses for the daddy-daughter dance. And that would be a really big win for everyone.

— Carole

Dear Carole: The large response to this question tells me that many families have dealt successfully with this tricky situation. Offering the stepfather the father-bride dance is a great idea.

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