DEAR AMY: My parents go to Florida two or three times a year. While they sometimes drive their car, they fly most of the time. When they fly, my father consistently asks me to pick them up, which in my opinion is no small favor.
I do not live near them, and I do not live next to the airport. I would have to drive to the airport and wait, which is roughly an hour, then drive them to their house, which is about 40 minutes, and then return to my house, an hour away.
I do not mind helping them out, but it is as if my time is of no consideration. I have kids and things of my own to do, and three hours of my time is an imposition.
A simple $30 cab could do the trick and save me time, gas money and the wear on my car.
Why is it that he doesn't see the inconvenience to his own daughter? How can I handle this so he will understand how much he is asking? — Put Out
DEAR PUT OUT: Assuming that this three-hour task once or twice a year is the biggest chore your parents impose upon you, I'll ask you to think back to a time when you lived at home when your parents routinely dropped everything to attend to you, without grumbling about the cost of gas or the wear on their car.
This is your opportunity to do something quite simple that can balance that scale a little bit — as well as allow you to spend a little time with them.
You also have no idea of what things could be like if your parents were not healthy, when you might be driving three hours for doctors' appointments.
But, given your lack of perspective (and the fact that your father doesn't seem to either ask you well or express his appreciation), you will have to be honest with him and say that this is a big imposition and so they'll have to take a cab to their home.
DEAR AMY: Our family's recent holiday celebration was "hijacked" by my wonderful grandson (in his mid-20s) whom we all deeply love. He has struggled for years with ADHD and OCD, as well as speech and reading difficulties. Recently he got involved with martial arts. This is awesome and really good for him. At Christmas he talked about this topic. It was a total monologue, which went on and on. I escaped through food prep and talking with others in another room, but it simply never stopped.
An aunt of his came by after work; she was able to interrupt proceedings briefly before he intoned, "Now to get back to the topic at hand" — which was his monologue.
Please, does anyone have a gentle, kind, thoughtful way such onslaughts can be controlled without damaging his ego or hurting his feelings? — Wondering Gran
DEAR WONDERING: Offering your grandson a gentle corrective and assistance in behaving in a pro-social and appropriate way would ultimately be better for his ego than letting him dominate a gathering while people seek to escape.
At the next gathering, when it comes time to do the dishes, you could say to him, "Can you help me in the kitchen, please?" Standing side by side at the sink (not confronting through direct gaze) would offer an opportunity to say, "What you are doing sounds interesting. I'm so happy for you. But everybody needs a chance to tell their story, so don't forget to listen to other people. Did you know Jenny got a new job? You should ask her about that and listen to what she says."
I'll run suggestions from readers.
DEAR AMY: I couldn't believe that you backed up "Exhausted Gran" when she said she wanted to get out of baby-sitting her grandchild!
Neither one of you even mentioned what was best for the child. And having grandparents baby-sit is definitely best for the child. — Proud Granny
DEAR GRANNY: Exhausted grandparents have earned the right to say no to a heavy rotation of scheduled baby-sitting.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamytribune.com. You can also follow her on Twitter askingamy or "like" her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.)
By Amy Dickinson