Question:

Annually, my in-laws generously rent a vacation house for a week for their offspring and their families. They asked us months ago about dates, and booked the house.

One family has since realized their child's kindergarten starts that week. (I don't know why they didn't check on that before.) They decided their child will skip the first week of school.

All families involved live near each other, so this is not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The school's attendance policy prohibits missing more than three days if they are not for illness.

This is driving me crazy. I worry the parents will make a very bad first impression and the child will have trouble making friends, etc. This couple has made several decisions they regretted after the fact. I am dreading the vacation and having to ask the child if he/she is "excited about school." Should I just let it go, or can I ask: "Have you really thought this through?"

- Hates Watching Train Wrecks

Answer: A "train wreck"? Is that what you call it when a Brio toy topples off its little track?

I do not advocate treating children, or their schools, as variables that bend to parental will. However, I do advocate letting parents decide what's best for their children, except in the rare cases when they veer into abuse or neglect.

Which means I have a much bigger problem with your impulse to inject yourself into the Great Kindergarten Non-Kerfuffle of 2009. Your letter's tone suggests significant distress over a decision of negligible cosmic consequence. This is a child with a loving extended family, sufficient means to swing weeklong family vacations, and access to schooling. Surely there are other children who stand to benefit more from your activist impulses?

You could direct your efforts to people who are asking for your help and concern. There are always more needs than there are people to fill them.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.