Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 9:12 pm
Dear Annie: Three years ago, my sister invited us to her home, where she also had other guests who were rude to us, and whose teenage son hit my 6-year-old boy numerous times. When I confronted the teen’s father, the man repeatedly poked me in the face while my sister and the rest of her family did nothing. My wife and I left with a bruised child and poke marks on my face. I haven’t spoken to my sister since. I told my mother she owes us an apology.
It didn’t bother me too much when my mother mentioned my sister during subsequent conversations. But she would not stop arguing with me about that visit, and sometimes things got heated. I reminded her that all I want is an apology, and then Mom admitted she hasn’t told my sister anything we’ve discussed and said I should e-mail her directly. So I did. Mom, however, wrote another e-mail, saying I was a 42-year-old brat and the whole thing was my fault. Now I’d like an apology from her, too.
I feel guilty because she is my mother, but for the sake of my wife and kids, I have taken the less-is-more approach to seeing her. I feel I am defending my family. Is there anything else I should be doing? — Angry Son
Dear Son: Demanding an apology is akin to an ultimatum. While it seems your sister, your mother and those rude guests certainly owe you at least one apiece, you have pushed Mom and Sis into a corner, and instead of admitting fault, they prefer to shift the blame. Forget about the apology. It won’t happen. If you want to maintain a relationship, pretend this didn’t happen while continuing to severely limit the time you spend together. Keep conversation superficial so encounters remain pleasant, and if things get out of hand, leave immediately.
Dear Annie: We have two grandsons, ages 6 and 8. We have tried to take one child at a time and spend quality time with both of them. But our daughter-in-law says we have to take both so the other won’t feel left out. When we do take both, they compete for our attention. It has become an unpleasant experience.
I have explained this to my daughter-in-law, but she is standing firm. Our son doesn’t care. I am saddened and disheartened at their decision. I don’t want to stop taking them places, but I can’t put my husband and myself through this each time. What do we do? — One at a Time, Please
Dear One: The parents are being overly sensitive, but you can’t fix that. Many grandparents invite their grandchildren on an excursion at a specific age. It gives the children something to look forward to, and they know they will both get a turn. If the parents permit, offer to take each boy somewhere special when he turns 10 — a trip out of town or a day seeing a play and dinner. Until then, however, if you can’t handle both of them, don’t take either. Visit at their home until the boys are old enough to be more manageable.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Sanitary Sam” about public spitting. Laws against spitting on the sidewalk may not be enforced anymore, but you can still catch tuberculosis from spit. When people with tuberculosis expectorate onto the sidewalk, the germs protect themselves in little capsules as the spit dries out. The germs can be stirred up by wind and breathed in, or picked up on shoes and carried into the house.
The only big difference between now and the early 20th century is tuberculosis has become drug resistant and incurable.
In the years since antibiotics were invented, we have lost a great deal of common knowledge about disease control. — A Historian and Not Just Disgusted, but Afraid as Well
Dear Historian: Thanks for the health alert. You’ve probably scared a lot of people today, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
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 9.12.08