Grandma sub­mits her bill

Los Angeles Times - - COMICS - Send ques­tions to Amy Dickinson by email to askamy@amy­dick­in­

Dear Amy: I sent a check for $300 to my mother to cover my daugh­ter’s ex­penses dur­ing her visit. Upon my daugh­ter’s re­turn, my mother sent me an in­voice for $475.50 for ad­di­tional ex­penses, in­clud­ing the cost of gas to and from the air­port to trans­port her (45 min­utes away), train tick­ets to go to the city to a mu­seum, and the cost of the mu­seum ad­mis­sion. It was an item­ized bill.

This is hurt­ful, as this past win­ter my mother came to live with us for four months and we paid for ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing a nice va­ca­tion to an is­land over Christ­mas.

How do I ad­dress her be­hav­ior? I am hurt and an­gry by her de­ci­sion to charge me for gas to pick up her grand­daugh­ter from the air­port as well as the other ex­penses. My mother is a sin­gle wo­man (a re­tired col­lege pro­fes­sor), and we have never asked her to pay for any­thing. We even write her a check for gro­ceries when she hosts Thanks­giv­ing din­ner.

Now I feel she has taken ad­van­tage of my gen­eros­ity and I don’t trust her to spend time with my daugh­ter be­cause it is just too costly for me (fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally). — Burned by Grandma

Dear Burned: You are go­ing to have to ex­press your con­cern di­rectly to your mother. Your daugh­ter’s trip to see Grammy has cost you (I’m es­ti­mat­ing) around $1,000, with plane tick­ets, plus the in­voiced ex­penses in­curred while she was there.

Is your mother fi­nan­cially in­se­cure? Is she wor­ried about main­tain­ing her own life­style in re­tire­ment? These are le­git­i­mate con­cerns.

But is there a le­git­i­mate rea­son she couldn’t stay within the rea­son­able $300 bud­get, spend­ing over twice that amount? Is this item­ized bill her pas­sive-ag­gres­sive way of telling you that she doesn’t ac­tu­ally want to host your daugh­ter for such a long visit?

Af­ter you com­mu­ni­cate your ques­tions and con­cerns to your mother, you will have to make the tough de­ci­sion about fu­ture vis­its. Be­cause your mother seems to com­mu­ni­cate through mon­e­tiz­ing re­la­tion­ships, you’ll sim­ply have to de­cide whether this re­la­tion­ship be­tween grand­mother and grand­daugh­ter is one you can af­ford to foster.

Dear Amy: I had six sis­ters. Now I have only two, but I have been blessed to have my sis­ters and the love and the bond that we share.

I have a cou­ple of friends who were only chil­dren. Re­cently, they have told me that, “I am the sis­ter they never had.”

To­day I had a text from one of my friends who ad­dressed me: “To my sis­ter from an­other mother.”

I love these friends, but I have sis­ters. What can I say that is not hurt­ful and will show my love for them? Should I pre­tend that I love them like a sis­ter? — Not a Sis­ter

Dear Not a Sis­ter: You don’t have to pre­tend any­thing. You only have to re­spond with kind­ness and gen­eros­ity to an ex­tremely kind ex­pres­sion of friend­ship and in­ti­macy.

Peo­ple en­joy fel­low­ship and kin­ship in a va­ri­ety of ways. You seem con­fused — or even a lit­tle of­fended — by these sis­terly ex­pres­sions. In­stead you should cel­e­brate the bounty these friend­ships of­fer, and let these women feel their own feel­ings and ex­press their af­fec­tion how­ever they choose. You are all quite lucky.

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