Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 9:32 pm
Dear Annie: My 28-year-old divorced daughter will be getting married soon. Occasionally, my husband and I baby-sit our 6-year-old granddaughter. During our weekly visits, our granddaughter sometimes tells us things that are a little disturbing. The most recent thing she said was, “Last night it was thundering and lightning and I was scared, so Daddy Bob told me to come in and sleep with him and Mommy in their bed. I slept in the middle and Daddy Bob just wears his underwear to sleep.”
Later, when our daughter came to pick up our grandchild and they were getting ready to leave, I casually mentioned what her daughter had said. She rolled her eyes at me and said I was being overly protective, that her fiancé wears shorts to bed, not his underwear, and that I always think the worst. I changed the subject, but I wonder, Annie, am I worried over nothing? — Gram
Dear Gram: You aren’t being overprotective, you are being attentive. In this instance, however, we doubt anything is going on. Crawling into bed with Mommy and Daddy is perfectly natural, and you can’t expect Daddy to be wearing jeans. Unless Daddy is naked, or likes to crawl into your granddaughter’s bed, it seems innocent. Of course, you should keep an eye out for signs of abuse with any child, but please don’t encourage your granddaughter to tell you detailed stories about her stepfather’s sleeping habits. There is always the slight possibility she will start to create information in order to please you.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have lived in a nice neighborhood for 42 years. Our 93-year-old neighbor, “Ralph,” is alone because his wife became ill and he was unable to take care of her. Her loving family took her out of town to help her.
The problem is, Ralph is constantly at my door, ringing the bell, banging on the siding, looking for us in my garden, in my shed, in my driveway, in our face. We can’t sit on our patio and relax. He is driving us crazy.
My husband is retired and spends a lot of time caring for the yard and garden. This man is in his back pocket. We are trying not to be nasty. Ralph has two children who do not come around often. He needs supervision. This man is not the responsibility of the neighbors. How should we handle this? — Going Crazy in Pennsylvania
Dear Going Crazy: Ralph is lonely and has not adapted to living by himself. We’re assuming this is a second marriage and the “loving family” that took Mom doesn’t include the two children who don’t visit Ralph. Can you get in touch with his childen? Suggest they look into programs that will occupy Ralph, not only so he doesn’t annoy the neighbors, but to give him some mental and physical stimulation. You also can call Adult Protective Services and ask someone to check and make sure Ralph is managing on his own. We know he’s not your responsibility, but please do this anyway.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Elizabeth,” who asked about permitting a 4-year-old boy to use the urinal in the men’s room. As a mother of two sons, I often had the same dilemma. I have also stood outside restroom doors waiting for my boys, although not when they were as young as 4.
Wouldn’t it be nice if they would make a stall in the ladies room with a urinal for these situations? Most restrooms now have diaper-changing stations, so let’s progress a little more. There are a lot of women who are single parents or mothers shopping or traveling with children. It certainly would ease our minds to be able to let our little boys do this under our supervision. — Mom in Missouri
Dear Mom: It’s a sweet idea, but probably cost-prohibitive. (Any builder who’s interested could put the urinal in one of the stalls so little boys using the facilities don’t disturb curious little girls.)
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, 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 9.16.08