DEAR AMY: My husband and I adore our grandson, who is a toddler. We watch him at our house overnight two times a month while his parents attend art classes.
Now that he is getting older, my daughter would like to start leaving him for longer stays — the most recent request is three nights/five days so they can attend a class out of state.
When our grandson was born, his parents created a list of rules regarding his care. I understood why they would want to do this.
One of the rules is that there is zero tolerance for drinking any alcohol by the primary caregiver (me).
My husband and I enjoy drinking wine every night. When my daughter and her brother were growing up, her dad and I always had wine with our meals.
I don't mind giving up wine on an occasional evening, but as they start to ask us to care for our grandson for longer periods, I'm wondering if the no-tolerance rule is still an appropriate expectation.
We are responsible drinkers who enjoy wine. But are we pitting the safety of our grandson against our wine consumption? Are we being selfish, and could we possibly be accused of having a drinking problem by making an issue of this with our daughter and son-in-law?
Is responsibly drinking wine in one's home mutually exclusive to being able to responsibly care for a child?
DEAR WL: I support the "zero tolerance" policy of these parents. Even one glass of wine can affect your response time and sleep habits.
Speak with your daughter, and go over her list of expectations. You should ask her to negotiate a solution — the most obvious being that you and your husband trade off who is the primary caregiver in the evenings. This person will enjoy a glass of apple juice with dinner.
If you are afraid your daughter will bring up your drinking, then you do have a problem. At the very least, your drinking is causing a problem with her, and you should be brave enough to address it.
DEAR AMY: My niece celebrated her daughter's 16th birthday with a large and extravagant party. I live 270 miles away and explained to my niece that I couldn't make the trip. She curtly responded, "My daughter will only be 16 once."
I reminded her that I attend milestone celebrations for my three nieces, their husbands and seven children. I sent her daughter a card and the most generous gift check I could afford.
My niece has refused to speak to me for the six months since the party, and does not respond to messages.
There has been no acknowledgment of the gift — but then there never is.
I live on very little. I love my nieces very much. I am their only aunt and have been very close to them all their lives.
Am I missing something? Is a 16th birthday now considered a major life event? Was my absence a serious affront?
DEAR SYLVIA: At the risk of raising the stakes, I think that not only should your absence be forgiven graciously and your gift acknowledged, but also your niece and grandniece should do something generous and thoughtful for you.
A 16th birthday is important — but it's not a coronation. Teenagers — even little princesses — can be made to understand that the world doesn't revolve around them, even on special days, but they will never develop these values without their parents showing the way.
DEAR AMY: "Hopeful" was commenting on a woman's complaint about receiving diamond earrings when she mentioned getting a wooden stepladder for Christmas.
I hadn't thought about it that way, but yes, the diamond earring lady should be grateful.
I bet she never received a robot dog or a remote-control racecar for Christmas from her husband. I have!
My work group had a "worst Christmas gift" contest last year, comparing the worst gifts that everyone received, and I won!
— Been There, Gotten That
DEAR GOTTEN: OK. Let's throw down the holiday gauntlet. Readers, tell me your "worst gift" story!