Dear Annie: Our only son plans to marry a woman who has a son from a previous marriage. "Lance" and his intended have biological clocks ticking, and I expect they will produce progeny very soon.
We are unwilling grandparents. We don't like little kids much and want to keep our distance from this whole exercise. On the other hand, we would like to set up a trust fund for our grandchild — as our parents did for Lance.
This is potentially unfair to the existing child, is it not? If we do a fund for our blood-related grandchild, are we somehow obligated to do the same for somebody else's, even if our son embraces this child? How will not doing so affect these grandchildren once we are dead and gone?
We would appreciate your impartial thoughts on this matter. — Grandma — Not!
Dear Not Grandma: Is your son adopting this child? If so, you must treat him the same as your biological grandchild. If not, there is no obligation to set up equal trust funds, on the assumption that the stepson might be provided for by his paternal grandparents. Still, we hope you will set up something for that child so he does not feel as if his relationship with you was a sham. And we do think you should do your very best to form a close relationship with all of your son's children. Being an emotionally distant grandmother is sad for everyone. (And you might like the grandchildren more than you anticipate.)
Dear Annie: My husband and I are getting close to retirement. We are friends with "Louis and Rhoda," whom we have known for over 30 years. They are family to us. We raised our kids together, socialized and traveled together. However, we have a problem with Louis, and we're afraid that if we bring it up to him, the friendship will never be the same.
We know that maintaining friendships means making concessions, changing irritating habits and modifying how we relate to others. None of us is without fault. But Louis talks too much, and he has become worse with his advancing years. He does have good things to say, but he monopolizes conversations and repeats himself.
Other mutual friends have stopped asking Louis and Rhoda to social gatherings because Louis never stops running his mouth. He never asks what anyone else thinks, nor does he give any space so that others might change the flow of the conversation or get a word in. And he tells the same boring, recycled stuff.
I know Rhoda wonders why they don't get invited to other events, so I hope they will read this letter and make some adjustments. They are tenderhearted, good people and would give you their last penny, but Louis is getting worse, and with retirement we will have a lot more time with them. — In a Pickle
Dear Pickle: Since Louis has gotten worse in recent years, is it possible he is suffering from early dementia? This is not uncommon and would certainly explain his "boring, recycled stuff." Here's how you bring it up without damaging the friendship: "Rhoda, I've noticed that Louis seems more forgetful than he used to be. He constantly tells the same stories over and over, and doesn't remember to let others respond. Has he seen his doctor lately? We're worried about him."
Dear Annie: This is in response to that couple who expected the grandchildren to call them by specific names. At the age of 18 months, my grandson called me Paintball, and to this day, I don't know why. After several years of that, I'm Grandma now, but it's still fun to laugh about. — Pensacola, Fla.
Dear Pensacola: How cute! (He could have called you Sherwin-Williams.)
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2005. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.