Dear Annie: My significant other of 20 years is a great guy, and he's been wonderful to me. Here's the problem: "Bob" has an 11-year-old autistic grandson. Every time we have taken "Russell" on vacation with us, it hasn't exactly been relaxing. I am 62 years old and work a difficult full-time job. I'd like a real vacation instead of babysitting a child with special needs. I have offered to take Russell on the weekends, but he says that isn't good enough.
Here's the kicker: Russell lives nearby, and Bob can see him anytime all year round, but won't visit at all. Yet in the past 10 months, Bob has taken several short trips with his friends, mostly to go fishing.
These two weeks are my only vacation, and frankly, I am not up to having Russell the entire time. My daughter says I should be more compassionate and would feel differently if this were her child instead of Bob's grandson. Am I being selfish? - Can't Handle It Again
Dear Can't: No, although we understand why your daughter wants you to be more compassionate. It bothers us that Bob won't spend time with his grandson unless you are around to take care of the boy. This is unfair to you, making your vacation another "job." It is also unfair to Russell and his parents, who undoubtedly resent that Grandpa isn't willing to visit during the year.
Your offer to take Russell on weekends is kind, and we think Bob should take you up on it. So here's the compromise: You have two weeks of vacation. Spend one week relaxing, and take Russell for the other.
If Bob insists on taking him for two weeks, we recommend you spend one week on your own and let Bob learn how to deal with his grandson until you get there. And then take the boy on an occasional weekend so he spends more quality time with his grandfather.
Dear Annie: I had to chuckle when I read the letter from "Fluffy's Competition," because my husband told me I loved our Jack Russell terrier more than I did him. My response was that I loved her, but it was a different type of love. She has since died, and we have another Jack Russell, and she is my husband's little girl. He now knows how much you can love a pet, and it is completely different.
Oh, by the way, we just celebrated our 46th anniversary. - R.
Dear R.: We heard from a great many animal lovers. Here's a short sample:
From Florida: I lived the same situation for 18 years with my beloved husband and his cat, Tom-Tom. He loved his cat so much. For years, they lay side by side, each suffering and dying from cancer. I always said, "If I gave my husband a choice of me or the cat, you know who would have to go. And it would not be the cat!"
They lived out their lives together and are together in heaven. My message to the wife is to love the cat as you do your husband. If you have love in your life, you have everything.
Arizona: Wait a minute. This woman knew he had Fluffy when she married him and how he felt about her. Did she think he would get rid of the cat? It seems to me she is the one with the problem. Has she ever tried to be friends with Fluffy? Perhaps he is spending time in the bathroom with Fluffy because his wife is ignoring her.
We have had six cats in our married life, but we loved them all. Perhaps Fluffy needs to be treated like a family member and not as an unwanted guest.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.