Dear Annie: At least once a week, my oldest daughter, “Alice,” asks me to babysit her two kids. I have back problems and cannot get up and down all the time. She has never offered me a dime, even when she was married and had two incomes. I could use the money.
Alice recently went through a divorce. I babysat a lot during that time, but she never showed any appreciation. Alice blames me for everything bad that has ever happened to her, because I divorced her father. So I feel guilty and agree to babysit all the time. Of course, their father moved away without saying goodbye to any of the kids and was out of their lives for seven years, leaving me with two teenagers and a 9-year-old to raise on my own. He never paid a drop of child support.
I am remarried, and my husband and I like to have the weekends to ourselves. We would love it if Alice brought the kids over for a visit and stayed. But she drops them at the front door and speeds away. She is often gone for hours. She doesn’t answer her cellphone when I call to ask when she’s coming back. The kids run out to her car, and she zips off.
Alice never phones just to talk, only to ask me to babysit. If I don’t answer, she drives over and pounds on my door. I’m afraid to sit on the porch for fear she will show up and ask me to babysit. All of the children are now reunited with their father. Why doesn’t Alice ask him to babysit once in a while?
— Hiding Out in Indiana
Dear Hiding Out: You need to be more assertive with Alice. Tell her that you’d like her to visit once in a while instead of using you as a drop-off service. Also say that you love the kids, but cannot babysit so much. Be sure she knows you mean it. It’s OK to say no, even if it makes her angry. If you want to work out some type of payment, that’s between the two of you, but don’t be afraid to bring it up.
Dear Annie: I am an 87-year-old widower and am appalled at the number of letters in your column about bickering between parents, children, siblings, grandparents, friends, husbands and wives.
I wish I could share some of the love I am blessed to experience. After my wife of 52 years died, I went out late at night to clear snow from the church parking lot. Upon returning, there were four messages on my answering machine, and my granddaughter was calling to say her father was on his way to check on me — a 40-mile round trip. So for the past 15 years, they have called every night, no matter where they are.
My son-in-law uses a week of his vacation to drive 1,500 miles to check on my 90-year-old sister. And he drives 80 miles on Sundays to get me to church. My granddaughters take me to the doctor, and my nephew and his wife often take me to dinner. My wife’s family includes me in their get-togethers. My son calls daily, and my grandson fills in when his family is out of town.
We reap what we sow. Love is like an echo: What you do or say will return to you.
— A Blessed Grandpaw
Dear Grandpaw: It warms our hearts to know how close and loving your family is. We wish everyone were so cherished. Thank you.
Dear Annie: This is for “Grimacing in Sarasota, Fla.” and all the toilet hoverers: Use a piece of toilet tissue to pick up the seat. Then hover all you want. When finished, use another piece of tissue to put the seat back down. Piece of cake!
— Ruth in Davenport, Iowa
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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