Dear Amy: My son, a teacher, is scheduled to return to the classroom in two weeks. He has a wife and an 18-month-old son.
My other son has three young children who will also be going back to school. He lives about an hour away from us. Throughout the Stay Home/Stay Safe period in April/May, my husband and I were very conscious of who we were around, so we were able to continue to see our grandchildren and also our own parents (all in their 80s).
Only my husband went to the grocery store, usually in the early morning before it got busy. We didn’t go out to eat or socialize.
My son (the teacher) has said it is not a question of IF he’ll get COVID, but when he’ll get it after he returns to teaching.
As parents and grandparents, what do we do when school resumes?
I feel that the moment my son goes back to school, he becomes a possible virus carrier and could expose his family and us to COVID. I also feel the same way about my other grandchildren, as they are all under the age of 10.
But I don’t want to go the entire school year not seeing my kids and grandkids.
— Scared Mom/Grandma
Dear Scared: Don’t be scared. Do be smart. You and your husband hunkered down in the earlier days of the pandemic, and you should hunker down again. No, you should not have close contact with your sons and grandchildren until there is a vaccine, treatment, or more reliable and consistent information about the spread of the coronavirus. This does not mean that you cannot see your grandchildren, but that you should not have close physical contact with them (for instance, you might be able to go to an outdoor playground and watch them play, but wear masks and keep your distance).
This situation is unprecedented, and you should do your best to anticipate and react based on what you know so far.
It might be overwhelming to think of this in terms of months, or a year. So, think of this as a seasonal decision: this fall, you will hunker down. Later on, you will reassess and make a fresh decision based on the best available information.
Every time I feel frustrated by the undefined scope of this pandemic, I think about the people of Europe during WWII. Their deadly and destabilizing journey lasted for years. Surely, we can “keep calm and carry on,” too.
Dear Amy: I have been married to my husband for four years. His entire family hates me. He was raised a strict Mormon but left the church long before he met me. Yet his family openly blames me for “making him ” turn his back on religion.
They are upset with me because I will not have any more children (my husband does not have biological children of his own). They ignore me any time we are around them, even at our wedding. How can I get them to see that they are toxic, and it’s not all me, as they constantly claim?
— Frustrated in Washington
Dear Frustrated: You should not engage in a contest with your in-laws to prove who is more “toxic.” In fact, if these people consistently treat you badly, you should reduce your contact with them. Your husband should also push back, calmly, every single time they disrespect you.
Distance and detachment will be a liberation for you.
Dear Amy: Thank you for advocating for people to make EOL (“end of life”) decisions. When I had “the talk” with my mom when she turned 75 about DNR forms, she wouldn’t talk about it. With a little patience, I determined that she was worried about the cost of the legal work.
I went to her state’s Department of Aging website and found all kinds of great resources, including home safety checks by a county social worker, free time on a phone with a lawyer who did this pro bono, and I accessed downloadable forms for simple wills, powers of attorney and DNR forms accepted in her state.
I got everything ready for her, and she made her choices. Her longtime bank had a notary, and we got the required notarized signatures for free.
“Miss Rose” lived another 20 years after our big talk, blessed to be articulate to the end. I miss her, still.
— Miss Rose’s Daughter
Dear Daughter: Great mom/devoted daughter. Thank you for inspiring the rest of us to have “the talk.”
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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