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Ask Lisi: Do I need to apologize for being a mean kid 30 years ago?

You never know what people remember from childhood, but if you need to say sorry, do it
Advice columnist Lisi Tesher

Dear Lisi: When I was a child, my family would go to the beach twice a year for a few weeks. We stayed in a lowrise family-friendly motel, the same one every time, and the same families would come year after year. I became friendly with two sisters, one my age, and one a few years younger.

The one my age was far more advanced than I was as a pre-teen/tween. She was into makeup and boys, and being sassy. I wasn’t there yet. She used to mock me for my “childish” ways, and put me down.

My only course of action, or so I thought at the time, was to be just as mean to her little sister. She had bright orange hair and was awkward and ungainly. Thankfully, she seemed oblivious to my taunts.

It’s been over 30 years since I saw these two girls, but I bumped into them recently while away in a big city. The one who had been so mean to me, was overly friendly and kind, as though none of that ever happened. The younger one is now the most beautiful woman, and so nice. We had a lovely reunion and went our separate ways.

Should I be apologizing to the younger woman for being unnecessarily mean when we were young?

Feeling bad….

There’s no right or wrong here. You never actually know what people remember from their childhoods, what affected them, and what perhaps meant something to you that they don’t even remember. Or vice versa.

It’s been 30 years and both women were friendly and warm toward you, and appeared happy and well-adjusted. However the older one treated you — and however you treated the younger one — doesn’t seem to have had a lasting negative effect on their lives. I think I would just let it go. But that means letting it go from your emotional storage unit as well.

If you need to apologize to the younger one in order to do that, that’s your call. But don’t expect the older one to apologize to you. Let it go.

Dear Lisi: My son is starting a new school next year. He’s a young 2010 baby, born near the end of the year, and is physically less mature than many of his cohort. Up until recently, the difference hasn’t been that obvious, but when puberty hits, the changes are visible. The girls have already all started to become young women. The boys are filling out, getting taller, getting some facial hair…. but not mine. He looks like a large seven-year-old – baby-faced, skinny, wide-eyed and innocent.

I’m worried about how he’s going to fare next year. I’m less worried about the older kids picking on him (I feel like 16-year-olds won’t waste their time for such behaviour), than I am about him finding someone to sit with at lunch. He knows a few people going to this same school, but not many. And most of the people he knows are going with large groups of friends.

I’m so afraid he’s not going to have anyone to hang out with those first few days. I know it’s not a problem in the classroom, because he’ll be sitting with other people and chatting. But when they all get up and find their friends…. he’ll be alone.

How can I help him?

Worried Dad

Teach your son the skills he needs to not be left out of anything. Even the shyest of children can learn to say hello, to share their snacks and to be friendly. Your son will find his people, don’t worry.

But maybe he can make a plan with one of his existing friends for the very first day, to meet and eat together.

FEEDBACK Regarding the dying mom and her special needs adult child (Oct. 23):

Reader – “There are social service agencies who can advise this mother about homes for adults who cannot live independently once their parents are gone. There may well be a wait-list for residence, but they should be able to offer some supports in the interim, and may prioritize her son’s admission, given her circumstances.

“Good advice for other parents who have adult children who cannot live independently is to get information early, so they have a realistic plan in place for when the time comes.”

FEEDBACK Regarding the dad complaining about his wife travelling (Oct. 31):

Reader – “Oh please! Lonely Dad might consider adjusting his career to be home more, even if it means a slightly lower income. Instead of asking, “How can I get her to stay home more,” ask how to discuss a solution with her!”

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: or