Ask Amy: Grandmother dreads Christmastime visit

Dear Amy: My daughter and granddaughter are coming to spend 10 days with us over the Christmas holidays.

I am dreading the visit because my 3-year-old granddaughter is unable to be around others without being the center of attention!

If adults try to have a conversation she interrupts continuously, and if she has nothing to actually say, she just makes loud noises.

It is beyond irritating.

I try not to interfere with my daughter’s parenting, but I’m not sure how to survive 10 days of this, when even brief phone calls with the two of them make me crazy.

Any advice?

– Sad Grandma

Dear Sad: It is extremely common for 3-year-old children to want to dominate their primary parent’s attention.

Children learn not to do this through a combination of repeated reminders and distractions: “The adults are speaking to each other. You are interrupting. If you have something to say, you need to wait your turn.”

You can also ask a 3-year-old to do a “job” for you, folding dish cloths or towels on the floor, sorting wooden spoons into different boxes, stacking blocks, or putting their favorite toy “to bed” in a shoebox.

Ten days is a long visit; the holidays are highly charged and exhausting for children and their parents, and you should count on having your daughter’s full attention only during your granddaughter’s afternoon nap time and after she is asleep at night.

You would not dread this visit so much if you reframed your orientation: This will not be a mother-daughter visit between you and your daughter, but a Christmastime visit with your granddaughter.

I hope you will find ways to bond with this little girl that will make this visit memorable for both of you.

Gentle corrections, reminders, and activities will help the child.

Relaxing your expectations will help you.

Dear Amy: My long-time friend “Charlotte” and I have been traveling abroad together for the past several years.

We are both introverts and get along well on our trips as we respect one another’s space and the need for quiet.

We avoid the bustle of cities and tourist traps to spend our time hiking and in solitary reflection outdoors. We treasure these annual getaways as an opportunity to clear our heads and restore our creative energy.

Another friend wants to join us this year. She will be crushed if we don’t include her.

The problem is that her chatter never stops. I mean never.

We love her dearly but max out after a couple hours together.

If she joins us, we feel that we will be mentally depleted by our trip rather than rejuvenated. It will defeat the whole purpose.

How do you think we should handle this?

– Tripped Up

Dear Tripped Up: You should handle this quickly, calmly and politely, by telling “Charlotte,” “We’ve been doing this annual trip the same way for many years and count on having this quiet experience of mutual solitude. Our time away is very quiet and many people might find it boring, but this is how we do it. This would not work if another person joined us – whether it was you or someone else. Please understand that this is not personal.”

Dear Amy: “Confused Mother-of-the-Bride” asked about tipping a sales associate for the purchase of a bridal gown.

I own a bridal store. Our store, as most do, gives the bride an option to tip the stylist at the time of checkout.

This is a service-based industry. We by no means push the client to tip the stylist.

Over the past few years, it has become more customary for the stylist to receive a tip. Many do still receive a commission.

As a server who receives a tip for good service, so should a good stylist.

We provide a unique, memorable experience for our brides.

Did you reach out to any bridal stores before answering that question?

– Bridal Store Owners

Dear Owners: I did not reach out to bridal stores, but I did research recent bridal trends via a popular wedding website, and the consensus among brides was that tipping for a gown purchase should not be compulsory.

My theory is that the tipping option that gained strength during the pandemic is now included in sales software, so it automatically pops up when a sale is completed.

There are other unique, memorable, and important purchases: for instance, buying a first car or home. Should those sales people also receive a tip?

I believe our culture of tipping has gone a little haywire.