DEAR ABBY: When I visit my three grandchildren on Fridays, my daughter-in-law never offers me any refreshment — not even a glass of water or a cup of tea. She will eat in front of me and not offer me anything. I was taught that this is rude. Should I bring my own refreshment? (If I did, I would feel as though I would need to feed the whole family.)
I already travel quite far to get to her house — 45 minutes each way — and I bring snacks for the grandchildren. I visit them because it’s easier for my daughter-in-law to have me over than to haul the 1-, 3- and 6-year-olds out to my house. I would love to be invited to stay for dinner, but it never happens ahead of time. If I come at 2 p.m., then around 5 p.m. I “may” be invited, but I feel it is out of obligation, so I don’t stay. What should I do? — TOO POLITE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR TOO POLITE: You were raised in a home where you were taught good manners. Apparently, the woman your son married was not. No hostess with an ounce of class would eat in front of a guest without offering them anything. The haphazard way you are included at dinner makes me wonder if your daughter-in-law dislikes you and only tolerates your presence, because it certainly isn’t calculated to make you feel welcome.
Talk this over with your son. If your visits are regarded as an imposition, perhaps you should take the grands for an outing rather than watch their mother eat.
DEAR ABBY: My son has a best friend, “Earl”, he has hung out with since they were 14. Earl considers me his second mother because his real mother deserted him after he graduated from high school. He has never married or had kids. I’m 76, and Earl is 55. He does small jobs for me off and on, like changing the lightbulbs in my kitchen, fixing a light switch, replacing my windshield wipers, etc. He calls me off and on, and we email a lot. We both love movies and enjoy discussing them and the actors.
When he calls, I know I sometimes become long-winded. I’m sure Earl gets tired of me going on and on about my stuff. But instead of telling me he needs to go, he quietly hangs up on me. I think it’s extremely rude. I wish he would just tell me he has to go — I wouldn’t be upset about that.
Earl never mentions it later, and we just go on as usual. I could tell him I’m never speaking to him again if he does it again, but I need him to help with those small tasks, so I don’t want to make him mad. Must I remain silent about it? What should I do? — LEFT HANGING IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR LEFT HANGING: Tell Earl that when he hangs up on you it is extremely hurtful. Explain that you know you are sometimes long-winded, and if he needs to end the conversation, there are kinder ways of doing it. Tell him that if he lets you know he needs to go, it will not hurt your feelings, and this is what you would prefer. Then cross your fingers that this “second son” gets the message.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.