Aunt says young nieces and neph­ews’ tight sched­ules foil her fun dur­ing out­ings

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Dear Carolyn: My hus­band has three sib­lings and we are the youngest cou­ple, and the only peo­ple with­out kids. My nieces and neph­ews are 6, 5, 3 and a baby. I have a re­ally small fam­ily and no ex­pe­ri­ence with lit­tle kids, and my friends haven’t had kids yet.

When we all get to­gether, the sched­ule my broth­ers- and sis­ters-in-law im­pose seems re­ally strict. The kids have to eat and go to bed at spe­cific times, and ev­ery­thing we do is cen­tered on this.

When we are with them, it feels ex­tremely rigid and it re­ally damp­ens my en­joy­ment of spend­ing time to­gether.

My hus­band thinks we should just con­tinue to go along with it. I think we shouldn’t be ex­pected to all the time, and it’s rea­son­able that the oc­ca­sional out­ing or event isn’t quite so rigid. Next time we all see each other, I want to sug­gest go­ing with the flow a lit­tle more.

My hus­band said that if I re­ally wanted to say some­thing I should, but he is on record that it’s a bad idea. I don’t see what’s so bad about mix­ing styles of out­ings; I don’t think their hav­ing lit­tle kids means they get to dic­tate the way the en­tire thing goes for every­body.

Should I bring this up? If so, is there a good way to do it? I just think it would be fun to re­lax a lit­tle more. Sched­uled

Sched­uled: If your def­i­ni­tion of “fun” in­cludes young chil­dren who are over­tired, over­stim­u­lated and hun­gry, and broth­ers- and sis­ters-in-law who, try as they might, will never for­get the day their sib­ling-by-mar­riage with zero kid ex­pe­ri­ence tried to tell them how to raise their kids, then, yes, you should go for it.

Trust me. How you phrase it won’t mat­ter.

I’m a youngest, too, was an aun­tie for years be­fore I had kids, and spent va­ca­tions and hol­i­days un­der the thumb of 40pound dic­ta­tors. It’s con­fin­ing, yes.

But tight sched­ules are re­ally, re­ally im­por­tant for keep­ing young kids from shriek­ing the benev­o­lence out of those dic­ta­tor­ships. If you think eat­ing din­ner at 5:30 p.m. puts a damper on things, then try en­joy­ing your adulty twi­light din­ner against the back­drop of a tantrum in three-part dishar­mony. Alone, as par­ents calm down their kids.

If you haven’t yet, then you might have those so-rigid par­ents to thank for it.

Where you’re com­pletely cor­rect is in rec­og­niz­ing that your sched­ule needn’t be cen­tered on the kids’. If you want to eat later or sight­see through nap time, then do so — in­de­pen­dently. You’re teth­ered to their sched­ule, yes, but only at times you agree to be teth­ered to the rest of the group.

Hug your hus­band, too. Wise man.

Dear Carolyn: When we got mar­ried 20 years ago, we de­cided not to in­vite small chil­dren to our wed­ding. One cou­ple who had a small child at the time made quite the or­deal of how of­fended they were that they couldn’t bring the child to the wed­ding. They did not at­tend.

This sum­mer that child, all grown up, is get­ting mar­ried and we’re in­vited to the wed­ding. Are we ob­li­gated to go con­sid­er­ing how we were treated be­fore our wed­ding? Wed­ding Whin­ers?

Wed­ding Whin­ers?: You’re not ob­li­gated to go even if they per­son­ally har­vested the rose petals tossed be­neath your silk slip­pered feet.

That’s the na­ture of in­vi­ta­tions. To ac­cept is strictly your choice.

If you like this cou­ple and/or their child and you want to cel­e­brate the mar­riage, then ac­cept the in­vi­ta­tion. If you don’t, then don’t.

The fuss they made two decades ago was rude and my­opic. As you de­cide whether to fo­cus on the “my­opic” or the “two decades ago,” keep in mind: Grudges make lousy de­ci­sions.

Dear Carolyn: Yes­ter­day I drove past a sin­gle-mo­torist mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent. The driver was miss­ing. Sev­eral peo­ple had al­ready stopped to look for the mo­tor­cy­clist. I also pulled over.

We found him down the em­bank­ment. Two women reached him first. One seemed to have med­i­cal train­ing. She took his pulse and kept telling him to keep talk­ing to her. I gave them a blan­ket from my car so he could stay some­what warm. I left shortly af­ter that and passed the po­lice on their way.

I learned this morn­ing that he passed away at the scene. The ar­ti­cle gave his name and ad­dress. I am con­sid­er­ing send­ing a con­do­lence note to the fam­ily to let them know he was not alone; that peo­ple cared enough to stop, look for him and keep him com­fort­able un­til the paramedics ar­rived.

I’m not sure if that would give them com­fort or cause them more pain. What do you think?

Wit­ness to Last Mo­ments

Wit­ness to Last Mo­ments: What a beau­ti­ful thought af­ter a ter­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence. I hope you’re okay; you must be shaken your­self.

Grief is so per­sonal it’s im­pos­si­ble to say how loved ones would feel about such a note. I will say, though, that if I were the one learn­ing of strangers’ kind­ness to my dy­ing child or sib­ling or par­ent, I would be grate­ful to you be­yond words.

Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@wash­ Get her col­umn de­liv­ered to your in­box each morn­ing at­post.

Join the dis­cus­sion live at noon Fri­days at wash­ing­ton­ con­ver­sa­tions.

Carolyn Hax

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