Dear Annie: My husband and I vacation every year with several other couples. We rent a house and split the costs. We always have a great time together.
The problem is, one of the couples has an adult child who lives near our vacation home and chooses to come over and “visit” when the folks are there. This child is very rude. She sits around like she owns the place and rolls her eyes when something is said that she doesn’t like. What bothers me most? She won’t speak unless the mood strikes her. This year she stayed four days.
Since we all pay our share for the house and food, what makes her feel she doesn’t have to pay for her lodging when she has a bedroom and bath to herself? Why don’t her folks go to her place and visit?
We are not the only couple who feels this way. I would not allow my child to come and stay for free at a house that other people are paying for and intrude on their vacation plans. What can we do? — Miffed in Minnesota
Dear Miffed: The next time your group plans a vacation, say to your friend, “We love seeing Penny, but if she’s going to be sharing our vacation, we think it’s only fair to split the costs with her in mind.” If your friend objects, she may decide to do her visiting in her daughter’s home.
Dear Annie: For reasons that are far too complicated to explain, I can no longer work. My husband and I had a second child last year. It wasn’t something we planned, and it has left us unable to make ends meet. My husband is looking for a new job, but at the moment we are really struggling.
My mother lives comfortably due to smart investments. Months ago, she told me her money was more than enough and it bothered her that she couldn’t help us through our rough patch.
Annie, Mom’s help isn’t particularly helpful. When she thought our floors were dirty, she bought us an electric rug cleaner when we can barely pay our electric bill. When we had a wedding to attend, she said she’d buy the gift, but she only put her name on the sealed card, so we had to buy one anyway.
What would really help us out right now is so much simpler. We could use diapers for the baby or a cake for our daughter’s birthday. How do I talk to Mom about this without seeming ungrateful? — Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth
Dear Gift Horse: The next time Mom mentions how much she’d like to help, tell her, “That’s so sweet of you. We could really use a gift card to the grocery store where we can buy diapers and food.” If she gets you something you don’t want or can’t use, say thanks and ask for the receipt so you can return it for something you need. Either she will get the hint or she won’t, but at least you will have tried. After all, she doesn’t owe you a gift, so whatever she offers, try to be gracious.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Chief Chef,” who wanted to know when to teach her young sons how to manage in the kitchen. Does she get the Food Network?
My son has been pretending to be Emeril since he was 2. He’s also been helping me cook since he could stand. I measure, he pours. I hold the mixer while he pushes the buttons. He loves to roll dough into balls for biscuits or dumplings. And ready-made pizza dough with his own toppings is fun. I’m not ready to turn him loose in the kitchen yet (he’s only 5), but I know he’ll be ready when the time comes because he’s so comfortable and safety-conscious now. — Chief Chef With Assistant
Dear Chief Chef: Great job! Bam!
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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.
Published in The Messenger 5.30.08