DEAR ABBY: I'm the youngest of four sisters. The oldest sister is the only one who has children - three girls under the age of 12. I'm a high school teacher who works about 60 hours a week during the school year between teaching, grading, attending meetings, completing paperwork, tutoring before and after school, and planning lessons.
My second-oldest sister wants to plan an elaborate road trip this summer that involves renting an RV and driving cross-country with our nieces to visit Disneyland. She feels that since I have the summer off, I should be more than happy to go on this trek.
I love my students and nieces, but by the time summer rolls around, the last thing I want to do is spend a week or more in a camper with kids. I told her I have some summer training to go to, which is true, hoping she would drop the subject. She hasn't. I don't want my sister's or my nieces' feelings to be hurt, but I flat-out don't want to do this. What can I tell them?
- Sweating it out in the South
DEAR SWEATING IT OUT: Forgive me if this is blasphemy, but Disneyland isn't everyone's cup of tea. That's why it's time to tell your sisters the truth. You deserve a child-free summer break if you want one, and that fact should not be regarded as a personal insult to anyone.
An odd invite
DEAR ABBY: I have worked with a woman for a little more than a year. Her daughter is having a baby. I have never met her daughter, but hear only negative stories about her and her boyfriend, who both live with this co-worker.
Today in the mail I received an invitation to this daughter's baby shower. I was told by another co-worker that we all (seven office people) are invited, although none of us have ever met her. I am surprised the woman I work with would do this. Does it seem strange to you, and should I feel guilty because I have no desire to go? Because of the invite, I feel I "should" give a small gift, but I'm sort of miffed about it. If you were me, how would you handle this?
- Confused co-worker
DEAR CONFUSED: The daughter and her boyfriend are living with your co-worker because they don't have enough money to live on their own. I don't know the reason for that, and neither do you. It's fair to assume that they will need things for their baby. I agree that by sending you an invitation to the shower, she has put you on the spot, but I can understand her doing it.
If I were you, in the interest of solidarity as well as charity, I would send a small baby gift - or consider a group gift with your other co-workers. Because I had heard nothing positive about the mother-to-be, I would send with it my regrets for being unable to attend.