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Jewish World Review Dec. 17, 2003 / 22 Kislev, 5764

Standing on principal — alone?; part-time lie?; "family first" — but whose?

By Wendy Belzberg | Q: I am a high school principal and I get invited to a lot of Bar Mitzvahs. Although I am not married, I do have a significant other in my life. Most of the invitations I receive are addressed to "Ms. Principal and Guest." I was recently invited solo to the Bar Mitzvah of one of my students. Would it be wrong to RSVP with a guest? It's a pretty fancy affair at a country club and it would be a lot more fun with my intended.

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A: The appropriate response to an RSVP card is either yes or no. Responding that you will attend with a guest when none was invited is not an option. If you know the student well enough to want to attend the event then call the parents and ask your question gently. If not, just pass graciously. I like to think that you and your intended know other ways to amuse yourselves on a Saturday.

Q: I have been recruited by a headhunter for a full-time job. The problem is that I want to work part-time so that I can be home when my children get off the school bus. Is there anything wrong with going to the interview in the hope that this company falls in love with me and offers me a part-time position?

A: A job interview is not unlike a blind date: Both parties are on an expedition. Is there chemistry or not? I have never heard of receiving a job offer after one meeting, just as I have never heard of a marriage proposal on a first date. What is to say that this is the company and the people with whom you want to work — even if they did offer you a part-time position? There is nothing wrong with going on the interview. Maybe you'll fall in love; maybe they will. Maybe it will be apparent from the first handshake that this was not a match made in Heaven. You are lucky that you are already married and your anxiety is only about a job. I can't imagine the nature of the question if this were about a man. To quote my son: Chill. And start planning your wardrobe.

Q: Nine years ago I moved my family to Latin America so that my wife could be closer to her parents. My father-in-law promised to set up a business for me, as he had done for my brother-in-law. He did try to help me but I am an American in a culture that does not look well upon outsiders; no business ever got off the ground. There is another important factor. My 12-year-old son has some learning difficulties and needs a more specialized program than is offered here. He goes for therapy but I don't see a tremendous amount of progress. My guess is that he would fare better with professionals in the U.S. I would like to return to New York where I feel my son will have more success and where there are more employment opportunities. My in-laws feel that having family around is important for my wife and son and that that consideration takes precedence over all others.

A:I forget: Did you exchange vows with your wife or with her parents?

From an objective point of view I can say without hesitation that you should feel no compunction about moving home. Nine years is a long time to try to make a new country and a new job work: you are not a quitter. More importantly, no amount of family support for your son can outweigh the advantages of top-notch therapy. If the professionals are better in the United States your decision is made for you. Your first responsibility is to your son. Why don't you sit down with your in-laws and ask them to put his needs first — even before theirs? You have no reason to feel abashed about the fact that your son's requirements, and your own leanings, happened to coincide. Of course in a perfect world your wife would be inclining in the same direction. You might want to start downloading photos of tempting real estate from the web.

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