DEAR ABBY: I am a professional disc jockey with more than 30 years’ experience. I am on radio, and also entertain at weddings and private parties on weekends. Over the years, I have been amazed at the number of parents who take small children to wedding receptions and then proceed to turn the toddlers loose while they kick back and enjoy themselves.

Last weekend, such parental lack of supervision, combined with adult stupidity, had disastrous consequences.

I had just played the “first dance” songs and was playing a song for the bride, who wanted to have a special dance with her grandfather. About midway through the song, a woman came running to my table saying, “There’s something wrong with the air! My throat is burning!” I looked up and the bride was holding her hand to her throat, gesturing at me to stop the music. About that time, about half the crowd started running for the door and out into the parking lot.

A minute or two later, one of the staff informed me that someone had let loose pepper spray into the hall. They threw open the doors and windows and, after 15 or 20 minutes, things began to return to normal.

It turned out that someone had left a keychain with a small canister of pepper spray sitting on a table. A child about 4 years old, who was running loose through the hall, picked up the keychain, saw the shiny container with a button on the top – and pushed it. Talk about a great party stopper. Most of the guests who left the room never returned – and all because someone left his or her kid unsupervised, running amok, and because an adult with cranial-rectal syndrome left a container with a toxic chemical on a table where a child could pick it up.

Please, parents. If you must bring a child to a reception, make sure that child is properly supervised. Otherwise, get a baby sitter and leave the child at home. – “THE VELVET VOICE” IN HILLIARD, OHIO

DEAR VELVET VOICE: I hear you loud and clear. Now if the guilty parties will pay attention and not tune you out, perhaps fewer adult festivities will be ruined.

DEAR ABBY: A distant cousin I’ll call “Maggie” stayed with my husband and me while she was visiting our area. We were friendly with her parents and aunts, and hadn’t seen her since her wedding years ago.

She proceeded to tell us that her aunt, whom we adored, had been a kleptomaniac. (This aunt has been dead about 10 years. Why tell us?)

When Maggie left, she took an expensive pair of scissors off the table. Nobody else was here, so it had to be her. Abby, this woman is a pharmacist and an only child. She’s very well-off. We wined and dined her, and sent her off with some local gourmet items.

I want to write and tell her we know she took the scissors, but my husband tells me I should forget it. They were very special scissors – heavy-duty – and I miss them. What would you do? – MIFFED IN CHICKOPEE, MASS.

DEAR MIFFED: It appears that, like her aunt, Cousin Maggie has a compulsion to steal. It has nothing to do with her wealth or social status – it’s a sickness.

If it will make you feel better, you could write her and ask her if she packed them “by mistake.” But don’t hold your breath waiting for her to admit it. If I were you, I’d buy another pair of scissors and not invite her back.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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