Friday, February 12, 2010

Unwanted Advice - Feb. 12, 2010 ("Grey Friday"--that's the Friday before "Black Sunday"--Edition)

DEAR MARGO: I am in my 50s, have been divorced for 10 years and have a 17-year-old daughter. Her dad is remarried. I’ve been seeing someone for 13 months, and my daughter can’t stand him. He is a nice guy, and there are no behaviors to dislike. In fact, he’s rarely been around her. She has no reason; she says she just doesn’t like him and doesn’t want him around. How to handle this? I’ve told her it’s my choice and my house, and I can have company. (He has never stayed overnight with her around, only for a dinner here and there.) I mostly see him when she is at her dad’s house. The vehemence of her dislike really hurts. She’s rarely been around anyone I’ve dated, partly because I’ve hardly dated in the past 10 years. Must I choose one or the other?



You know, precociousness is cute in a 6-year-old, but it’s less so in a bitchy teenager. Tell her to back the fuck off. I get that she’s probably insecure about losing the only parent that she has “to herself,” but she’ll forget all about that shit when she’s in college and starts knocking boots with some frat boy who wears a backwards baseball cap and has an IQ of 70. It’s not worth passing up your chance at happiness so she can preserve her illusion for one more year.

In answer to your question, no you do NOT have to choose between the two—as you said, it’s your house and your choice. Tell Little Imelda that if she doesn’t like it, she can go look for a cheap studio with a hot plate and buy ramen noodles in bulk at Costco.

DEAR AMY: My mother and "Barbie" started working in a nursing home more than 25 years ago and are good friends.

Mom retired in 2008, and Barbie still works there part time. Mom suffered a stroke last spring and wanted us to put her in the home where she worked.
At first, Barbie was so helpful. She truly was a godsend. But things have changed. Barbie visits my mom at the nursing home every single day, and I know mom likes to see her. My brother and I try to visit mom at least once a week, but our jobs and family commitments make it impossible for us to see her as often as we would like.

Barbie has taken over. I can't call my mom without Barbie picking up the phone, and she doesn't even work in my mom's wing.
She shows up at my mother's therapy sessions, has insulted her care manager, tried to insinuate herself into care meetings, has attempted to accompany mom to doctors' appointments and even tried to persuade one of mom's doctors to change her medication.

How do I get this to stop?



Well, the first thing you need to do is make sure that you or another family member are your mother’s medical power of attorney (POA). You can get the POA form the nursing home office—and if I were you, I’d call the office when “Barbie’s” not around, so she can’t horn in.

The next thing you do is have a nice li’l sit-down with Babs and tell her that you appreciate her friendship with your mother and that you know your mother does, too, but that it’s time for her to step off and let her designated caregivers do their job and stop taking control of her phone calls.

If all that fails, tell the nursing home staff that you want Babs barred from your mother’s room. You can do that, you know—don’t ask me how I know this. It’s a painful choice, but sometimes when people get a little nutty, you have to put down a little ass-kick on ‘em until they see reason.

DEAR ELLIE: We met in our 40s, with similar incomes, both owning our own house and car. Within six months we bought a house together with equity from mine.

His son and family were renting his basement. We agreed that my son and family would rent the upstairs, paying $200 more.

My son’s hard working, hoping to finish college and his wife’s in college. His son and daughter-in-law are high-school dropouts. He’s a pot smoking gamer.

Recently, his son’s wife admitted to regularly stealing food from my son's family. His son got stoned at Christmas, despite my request otherwise. His father defended him.

Recently, his father fell and his disability pay isn’t sustaining us. He’s decided he’ll work less as “we” make enough together and I wasn’t entitled to disagree.
I noted that his "extra" expenses, e.g. smoking, exceeded mine. Also, I won’t support his deadbeat son and daughter-in-law. He insists I support them no matter how they treat me.

I’ve suggested separate banks accounts, he’s refused. He wants out, fed up with my nagging. I don’t want it to end like this.



Perfect—if he wants out, it saves you the trouble of throwing him out. Who cares how it ends, just so long as it ends? Sorry to say it, but the best (and really the only) option is for you to sell the house and split the proceeds. You take your half and buy a smaller place for you and your family—he can take his half and continue to accompany his son and daughter-in-law to the pot dealer and Old Country Buffet afterwards. Wanna bet on how long that money’ll last?

Oh, and get a divorce. Did I forget to mention that? Yeah—flush him.

DEAR ABBY: My wife is addicted to her cell phone. Whenever we're out together it's impossible to converse with her because she always has one or two text conversations going on.

The first thing I hear in the morning is her phone buzzing, notifying her of an incoming text. The last thing I hear at night is her sending a good-night message to one of her friends. If no texts are coming in, she plays games on her phone even if we're watching TV or if company is over.

I have told her it's making me crazy, but she won't stop. The constant clicking drives me up the wall. I feel as though I have lost my wife to her phone. Am I being overly sensitive? What do I do?



No, you’re not being overly sensitive, but unfortunately, this “being connected 24 hours a day” thing is a symptom of our modern age, and there seems to be no turning back. I think couplehood is outdated nowadays when people don’t need other people to amuse themselves. They can hit a button now and get titillated a whole new way that doesn’t require AA batteries.

If you decide this is worth fighting for, throw the fucking phone out the window. If she puts up a fuss, throw her right after it.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My beloved adult son is currently incarcerated. When a casual acquaintance asks me how my children are and what they’re up to these days, I have no problems being polite but vague.

But when dearer friends with whom I haven’t recently spoken ask about them, it becomes a bit more difficult. This is a rather painful subject, one I am not inclined to discuss with many. I also have no wish to violate my son’s privacy.
On the other hand, I don’t wish to give a friend the impression they were wrong to ask, as the problem is mine, not theirs.

Is there a polite way to let them know that my son is physically well and then change the subject without alarming my friends?



Technically speaking, the problem is your son’s, not yours. But I understand what you’re saying. For a nice, simple, non-alarming answer that effectively closes the subject, try this: “He’s in the pokey, but so far he hasn’t been poked yet.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The person who put their mother in a nursing home and can't even visit once a week and is jealous of an assistant who has filled in for them should fall down on their knees and thank Babs for caring more than they do instead of being a jealous prique. Did they bother to ask Mom if she wants babs around? I think she would rather have babs than loneliness and waiting for 2 weeks for a child to visit. The man who's wife loves her cell phone should get her number and call her when he wants to talk. Oh, he might want to check just who she's been talking to that is so important. The Unwanted Advisor makes me smile as usual. If only the people who wrote these letters could see your replies. Ted

6:02 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Sorry, I have to respectfully disagree on the nursing home point. The writer never said where he/she lived, but having been in this position myself, I didn't assume they live in the same town. It could be a longer distance, and once a week may be all they can manage (and with their own kids, emergencies are no doubt commonplace, as Mom would understand, having dealt with them). When they can't visit, they cherish those phone calls with their loved one and don't need Nurse Ratched fucking things up.

And when she starts insulting the therapists, she's overstepping her professional boundaries and letting her personal feelings interfere with the mother's care. That's not helping her.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw the part where the mother enjoyed the daiy visits from Babs. I don't think she should be banned but she does need a good talking too.
My mom's friend had a recent illness and gave her son Power of Attorney and while she was confined to her bed he took every thing out of her house and garage and even took her car. She had to go to court to get the car back but most of her stuff was gone for good. Ted

2:59 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Yeah, some kids are really greedy. I've heard of a lot of cases like that. I'd rather have my mom back than all her stuff. A lot of it is still in storage, and I have to go down and go through it with my aunt and uncle this Spring. Can't keep paying $90 a month for the shed!

11:45 AM  
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4:27 AM  
Anonymous carlnepa said...

As always another stellar post!!
Throw the cellphone out the window and her after it...bwahahahaha I thought I was the only guy who actually did stuff like this.

When I first read the letter about the woman in the nursing home I bristled, too. Then I remembered that my mother was there 24 hours/day, 7 days/week for a couple of years. I couldn't be there all the time but I was there as much as I could be. Moreso than if she had been at home and I was doing her shopping, yardwork etc. At least the other kids would take her to doctor appointments.
I fully agree to chat with Nurse Goodbody first, then an informal discussion with the Dir Nursing at the facility would solve the problem. Nurse Diesel needs to be told to keep a professional attitude about the situation. She should address any concerns with the family and the family can take it from there.
When my gram was in a nursing home there was a crazy aunt who would visit her, bringing 3rd parties along who would witness my gram signing a will leaving everything to this "beloved daughter". Sitting with our attorney after my gram had died he said there must be about 50 wills and that contesting them would be futile. Tells you what's important to some people, doesn't it????

11:53 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I had a cousin who started sniffing around when Mom first went into the nursing home (and it became clear that she was "loopy") and suggesting that we auction Mom's stuff off that she didn't need so Mom would have the money. The intensity and urgency of her argument set off a huge red flag with me. She'd done the same thing with both her parents' possessions when they passed away (my aunt and uncle both died early, as did my mother, really). She also did it with her father-in-law's stuff, then stuck him in a nursing home. She became very mercenary in her middle age, and it was hard to see because we'd been really close when I was little and she was a teenager. Family catastrophe does weird things to people...I hope it hasn't unhinged me (completely).

11:26 AM  

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