Dear Ann: My mother reads your column every day, and I am hoping she will see this and listen to your advice. She certainly won't listen to me.
My grandmother is 95 years old, and her health is bad. Someone has to be with her 24 hours a day. My father is her main caretaker, although my mother, my sister-in-law and I pitch in. Last weekend, my mother asked my daughter, "Ellen," who is 10 years old, to baby-sit Grandma for two hours. We thought it would be good for Ellen's self-esteem, and figured she could handle it. Ann, those "two hours" turned into seven. We were lucky there were no emergencies.
My husband and I have been planning a weekend in the country, and had arranged for Ellen to stay with my parents. My mother informed me that while we are gone, Ellen would be watching Grandma from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Ann, I don't believe a 10-year-old should be baby-sitting an elderly woman for that period of time. What if Grandma falls down or has a heart attack? Not only would Ellen be unable to help her, but if she called 911, chances are the authorities would come after me for child neglect.
Ellen does not want to spend 11 hours in Grandma's overheated house, and has begged me not to leave her with my parents while we are out of town. I have told my mother that Ellen is too young for such responsibility, but Mom pays no attention to me. Meanwhile, we have decided to cancel our vacation plans so we can take care of Grandma ourselves.
At some point, my husband and I will need some time alone together, but we cannot leave Ellen with my parents, and there is no one else whom we trust. I know this problem will come up again, and I hope you will help us find a solution. Dilemma in Spokane, Wash.
Dear Spokane: A 10-year-old should not be baby-sitting her elderly grandmother. If you and your husband want to take a vacation, arrange to have Ellen stay at the home of a girlfriend, or hire an adult baby sitter who will keep an eye on your child. This will cost money, but it will be well worth the expenditure in terms of peace of mind.
Dear Ann: I am writing in hopes that you will print this warning to your readers. I wish someone had warned me.
Last April, my husband and I spent two days in Freeport, Bahamas. We had a wonderful time, and bought several lovely souvenirs. On our last day of vacation, we visited a jewelry store, which was a very large establishment, and charged a bracelet for $105 to our charge card. When the bill arrived 10 days later, we discovered that the jewelry store had charged my account three times for the bracelet. Two of those charges were posted a day before we arrived in Freeport.
Please tell your readers about this practice, and let them know it is imperative they look over their charge card bill very carefully. This scheme of duplicate and triplicate charges apparently is not uncommon. Almost Ripped-Off in Florida.
Dear Almost Ripped-Off: Thanks for the alert. Often, people are too trusting or too lazy to take the time to check their charge bills, and the "mistakes" unintentional and otherwise go unnoticed. It only takes a few minutes, Folks, and I assure you, it will be time well spent.
Gem of the Day (Sent in by Bill D. in St. Petersburg, Fla.): A great deal of trouble can be avoided by breathing through the nose. It keeps the mouth shut.