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Bean-counting brother disapproves of sister’s generosity toward mother

Carolyn Hax
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Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My sister owns a few apartment buildings and my mother lives there rent-free. My mother plans to give my sister slightly more in her will. Our brother is angry about this, he wants my sister to just charge our mother rent. My sister thinks our mom will spend the money on medical expenses anyway and doesn’t mind missing out on rent. My brother thinks my sister is doing this to get credit of some sort. It’s annoying. What do you think?

— Heir

I think your brother needs to stop bean-counting and start living as a fully-fledged human being. And if there were some way an advice columnist could get a writer to get a sibling to do this, then I’d have published a book on it and retired on the proceeds. I’m sorry.

I will keep a good thought about his discovering, soon, that our spiritual side is some of the best factory-installed equipment we have and that we shouldn’t ignore it just because we can’t be bothered to read the manual. Kind of like Bluetooth.

I suppose you can suggest to your brother that if he’s so sure your mother operates on a credit-for-kindness system, and if he’s so adamant about getting in on the credit himself, then he’d probably do better to increase his kindness contribution than to lobby for reducing his sister’s.

I’m not saying this will go over well, just saying you’re welcome to give it a try.

Dear Carolyn:

I love traveling to see my friend and her spouse and kids, but I get massive anxiety whenever a meal is involved during my stay. They never hire a babysitter and insist on bringing their super-little kids with them to nice restaurants, where we unleash screeching, singing, running, and loud iPhone cartoons on other diners.

My friends are oblivious. I’ve even seen them change a diaper *at the table* of a fancy French bistro.

I offer to cook, get takeout, even beg for the nearest chain restaurant whenever I can, I’m so tired of the glares. PLEEZE tell me what I can do to mitigate this!

— We Are the Destroyers of Date Nights, the Bane of Waitstaff, See Us and Tremble!

Well, you either tell them the truth or you keep being part of the problem.

Maybe there’s some delicate phrasing …: “Even I have a problem with kid noise when I go to nice restaurants, and you know me to be kid-friendly; I’m totally fine with it at family-type restaurants. So please take this plea as a well-meaning one, since I love your kids like they’re my own: I want to go to Diaper Rodeo, or not go out at all. The glares from the Bistro crowd ruin the evening for me.”

By the way, I don’t anticipate ever recovering from the mere knowledge of the tableside diaper change, so please know the diners who witnessed it are in my thoughts.

Email Carolyn at [email protected], follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com .

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