Dear Blake,

My mother, who is 80 years old, hums her own made-up tunes. She has done it for as long as I can remember, but for the last few years, the frequency and intensity has increased. She does wear a hearing aid in one ear and sees her audiologist regularly. I have asked others, who say people with hearing problems often hum to fill the empty space caused by the hearing loss.

My problem is that her constant humming is so annoying it is negatively affecting my relationship with her. I have treaded lightly on the subject with her to be sure she’s aware that others can hear her, in case she was thinking they couldn’t. Advice?

Signed, Donna
From Boston, Massachusetts

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Dear Donna,

What your mother is doing can be very irritating. The only thing you can really do is find a habit that will drive her crazy, and then negotiate. Here are some “annoying” ideas. Start using your knife, spoon, and fork, as drumsticks, and play them loudly on your plate when you two dine together, whether it’s at home or in a really nice restaurant. When you drive her around, lay on your horn every time you are upset with another driver, including someone going to slow, too fast, or you feel the color of their car is hideous. The next time she hums in public, sing along with your own made up words that rivals the lyrics that would be on a gangsta rap cd. When she appears to be shocked at how your lyrics are vulgar, racist, and sexist, tell anyone that hears who hears you, that you’re singing one of the many songs your mother has written, and she’s currently trying to get a recording contract with an inner city music producer. And finally, anytime you are around her, wear ear plugs. Then inform her that if she wants to communicate with you, it has to be handwritten, and you’ll tear up all notes in front her without responding to the content, that has any misspelled words or grammatical errors. More than likely, I think she’ll stop humming after she gets tired of you throwing confetti in her face. I hope this helps.


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