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Home > Columnists > C.E. Marraffino
December 16, 2011

The 'Other' Grandparents Give Better Gifts


Dear Annie: I've written you before, but this time I hit the send button.

I have three grandchildren. One is biologically related, and the other two are my daughter's stepchildren from two previous relationships. The older child currently lives with his father, who has an enormous family. The middle child had no contact with his father until age 4, and then the dad re-entered his life and tripled his extended family. They have lots of money and want to make up for lost time, so they shower this child with gifts, toys, clothes and special trips.

We are dreading Christmas. The older boy will get lots of stuff from his paternal family, and the middle boy will get a huge windfall. But the youngest child will get only the small amount we can afford. I will spend the same amount of money on all the children because I treat my grandchildren the same.

The problem is, the two older boys look down on the presents from us because they aren't as good as what their paternal grandparents purchase. And the youngest boy feels slighted because he doesn't get as much as his brothers do. The older boys aren't told to share or stop being selfish. How do we make sure all three boys feel equal? — Trying To Be Fair

Dear Fair: There is no way you can compete with the other grandparents, so please stop berating yourself or the boys for the inequity. Children enjoy presents, but they rarely appreciate them beyond the first few days. Instead of focusing on the material, consider giving the grandchildren the gift of your time. There are plenty of free or inexpensive things you can do with each individual boy that will make him feel special and loved. Present them with a "gift certificate" for, say, a Saturday at the zoo or the park, a camping trip, a special dinner or volunteering. Gear your gifts toward that particular child's interests, and it will not only become something they look forward to, but a way to create lasting memories.

Dear Annie: I am a 72-year-old man living in a senior citizen apartment complex. I'm fit, active and in good health, and I still love the ladies. (They outnumber us about 10 to one.)

I always behave like a gentleman when I go out with a lady, and I get along fine with them until the subject of sex comes up. I am sensitive and don't bring it up until we've been out a few times and have gotten to know each other pretty well.

My question is: Why are older women absolutely terrified of sex? To me, it's the natural thing to do after a relationship has progressed to a certain point. I don't get it. What are they afraid of? — Loveless in Spokane

Dear Spokane: They may be afraid that you will be disappointed with their aging bodies, that they will feel inadequate and unattractive, that they may contract an STD, or that you will lose interest once you have slept with them. But we suspect you may be misinterpreting their response. They may not be terrified, but rather repelled by the idea of sex. They enjoy the courting and cuddling, but that's it. However, not all older women feel this way, so by all means, keep looking.

Dear Annie: Like "Baffled," we also had an issue with our neighbor when we installed the first fence. The neighbor came out with a ruler and was flipping it end over end to prove our survey was incorrect.

We can laugh about this now, but at the time, it was ugly. Tell "Baffled" that once the fence is established, the neighbor will get used to it and perhaps, like our neighbor, will actually compliment them on how nice the yard looks. They will soon learn the old saying, "Good fences make good neighbors." — B.T.D.T.

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