DEAR AMY: My almost 13-year-old grandson stays overnight at our house and always wants his grandmother to sleep with him because he is "afraid." He promised to stop asking for her to sleep with him when he turned 12 but has not kept his promise. We live in a "55 and over" community that is very secure. He and his mother text throughout his entire stay -- everything from "good morning" to "what did you have for dinner?" Both mother and son appear to be considerably neurotic. It is the same when his 10-year-old sister comes to spend the night. I may be an old fogey, but I think this is unhealthy behavior. It sends the wrong message to the kids about safety, individual strengths and independence. I do not say anything about it to my son and his wife because I fear they would start restricting their visits to our house, and maybe even our visits to theirs. We do not say anything to the grandkids for the same reason. Should my wife and I just pretend that all is well or should we attempt to talk with all of them about it? What do you suggest?
DEAR DUMBFOUNDED: I agree with your instincts but disagree with your conclusions and behavior.
You should not cast your grandson as neurotic and judge him so harshly. Do your best to be the wise, strong and reassuring grandparent he deserves. You and your wife should not have waited this long to confer with his parents on how to improve the dynamic. Your fear that they will restrict visits is keeping you from communicating with them about the visits -- which seem to be going quite badly. Ask them for suggestions.
Your wife and grandson should not be co-sleeping. Ask the boy to sleep in his regular bed and tell him he can come to you at any point if he becomes nervous for any reason. When he comes to your room, YOU (Grandpa) should patiently walk him back to his room and reassure him. If he can't manage in his room, let him sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor of your room while he adjusts.
If you are more engaged with the boy, his mother's texts will be less intrusive. Teach him to play chess. Let him teach you his favorite video game. Go camping together. Develop rituals that he enjoys. Be in his corner. That's what every child needs from a grandparent, and (so far) he does not have this with you.
DEAR AMY: While cleaning and clearing up some old, forgotten paperwork, I came across a 13-year-old check that was made out to me and never cashed. It was payment for music lessons I gave to my friend's daughter. The amount was $100. I recently had dinner with my friend and laughingly showed her the outdated check. She didn't realize it hadn't been cashed because she was divorcing and her ex had closed the account. She insisted on writing me a fresh check. When I disclosed this situation to a family member she said I should have just let it drop. After all, this was 13 years ago already! Am I right here? Am I due my money -- or should I just let it drop? I certainly don't want to lose a friendship over this.
DEAR FRIEND: Your friend paid her bill. It is not her responsibility to make sure you cashed the check -- or to hunt you down if you didn't cash it. This was your mistake. It was kind (and unnecessary) of her to insist on paying you again after all these years; if you decide to cash it perhaps you could use the money to treat the two of you to dinner.
DEAR AMY: "Furious" was a young woman whose stepfather hit and damaged her car. She should file a police report, then file a case in small claims court against that guilty stepfather for the damage. A slam-dunk case for her.
DEAR JIM: Small claims court is a commonsense solution. Thank you.