DEAR AMY: I have two granddaughters; 11 and 14. We have a vacation home, and they come to stay for a week or two every summer. While they were visiting this year, I noticed both girls trying on old clothes and jewelry from a closet. One granddaughter asked me if she could keep a gemstone pendant that she had found. It had belonged to my mother, and I was not ready to part with it. She seemed disappointed, but said she would put it back. I didn’t think anything of it until after they left. When I went to go look for the pendant, I was unable to find it. I emailed my son and asked if he knew if the girls had taken it. He said he didn’t think they would do something like that, and that I had probably just misplaced it. A few weeks later, I received an envelope in the mail with the pendant inside. Inside was a note from my daughter-in-law, saying she had found it in the girls’ room, and was very sorry for what they had done. She asked that I not say anything to my son about it for fear he would overreact, and that she would handle it. My son has asked me several more times about the pendant, and keeps saying that it’s my fault for losing it, that I’m forgetful and absent-minded and that I shouldn’t have accused his daughters. I have not said anything, and just keep saying that I hope it will turn up. I do not like lying like this, but I also don’t like being accused of being absent-minded when I am not. What do you suggest?
DEAR GAMMY: Your son’s behavior toward you is evidence, perhaps, of how he overreacts, and why his wife is so careful around him. Why is he berating you? Is it possible that he is also blaming and criticizing you to his daughters — placing all of you in a terrible position? He seems to be using this episode to bully you.
The first time he asked you about the pendant (after its return), you could easily have said, “Oh, it turned up. I’m wearing it right now, in fact!”
Your daughter-in-law did the right thing in returning this to you, but she should not have asked you to keep a secret from your son. She said she would handle this, but evidently she has not. It’s also not obvious that she has held her daughters accountable for their larceny.
You should let your daughter-in-law know that your son keeps inquiring about the pendant. Tell her the next time he asks about it, you’ll tell him the truth. Ask her and the girls to come clean to him. They did a bad thing. It has been rectified. Keeping this a secret draws out the drama. I assume you have fully forgiven them. It’s time to move on.
DEAR AMY: Do you think it is possible to change how you react internally to something? Examples being: a spouse who has quirks, a co-worker who talks too much or a neighbor who does noisy yardwork at a time when I want things quiet. In none of these instances is the other person doing anything wrong, per se. It’s my reaction that is bugging me. As I get older, I find I’m having more and more of these internal reactions. And honestly, I’m sick of my own voice in my head complaining! I have no problem chasing away my annoyed thoughts — it usually takes just a few seconds — but I’d rather not have this response in the first place. Any thoughts?
DEAR WANNABE: If you can release your annoyance within a few seconds, I’d say you’re doing very well. You might be able to flip the script, however, by determining to see these episodes as the comic absurdities of modern life.
For instance, every time I step into the shower, no matter what time of day, the guy that mows the lawn shows up with his mower, pacing back and forth just outside the window. Sometimes, you just have to laugh.
DEAR AMY: I was disappointed by your snarky response to “Too Many Siblings,” who was planning her wedding. You should have encouraged her to include all of her and her fiance’s family members as attendants.
DEAR DISMAYED: “Too Many Siblings” said she didn’t want to have any attendants. She just didn’t know how to make her wishes known.