Dear Annie: I never thought that I would find myself writing to you, but I need advice on how to handle a situation with my neighbors' 10-year-old son.
"Sam" comes into my yard, uninvited, at all hours of the day and night. He has not only climbed my apple trees and loaded his pockets with fruit but also stripped my tomato plants bare, trampled my potato vines and knocked the stuffing out of my scarecrow. On one occasion, I even found him doing his "business" on my begonias! Annie, I was so horrified that I couldn't even speak. When his mother returned home from her yoga class that afternoon, I went over to talk with her. "Boys will be boys!" was about her only response. She also said, "The nanny is supposed to supervise him when he goes out."
I would put up a fence, but my town's zoning ordinances won't allow it. The rest of the neighbors are up in arms about this kid, as well. With gardening season starting again, I am worried that there will be a repeat performance of last year's reign of terror. My garden is my pride and joy, but with Sam on the prowl, not even a scarecrow is safe out there anymore. What can I do? -- Ready to Throw in the Trowel
Dear Ready: This little garden gnome has made enough mischief, but his mother is the real troll here. It's time for another chat. Ask what she will do to ensure her son doesn't enter your yard again. This isn't just a matter of manners. If he were to get injured while climbing one of your trees, you could end up facing a lawsuit. Let her know that if he continues to trespass, you will contact local authorities. Good luck to you -- and to your scarecrow.
Dear Annie: I am writing in reference to a letter from "Daughter," who is feeling torn and guilty about her participation in her mother's care.
It would be very helpful to caregivers if you would encourage them to find a caregivers support group in their area. We started such a group in our small town three years ago, and we continue to try to help caregivers get through their lives successfully. We have two hospice nurses and the director of the Area Agency on Aging as regular members, as well as a group of us who have been through it all. We encourage new members to let off steam, vent, cry, complain -- whatever will help them at the time. Then we proceed to discuss their concerns and to help them find solutions to their problems. They leave the meeting feeling less alone and carrying a fat folder of written information to help them cope. Our direct concern is the well-being of the caregiver, though we can often find solutions for the patient in the process.
Our particular group meets in the local hospital, and some are sponsored by hospice groups and are also available to the public.
Thanks so much for your attention to this important matter. Caregiving continues to grow as our population ages. -- Carol Patterson, Greene County Caregivers Support Group
Dear Carol: Thank you for sharing this very worthwhile suggestion. Support groups are a powerful resource. A weight is lifted when we realize we're not alone.
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