Q. I am a retired woman living in the Northern US. I find joy in the simple things in life: taking walks around my property and collecting things like Beanie Babies, some of which are rather valuable. This is where the problem lies.
I have two granddaughters, both in their late teens, who come over from time to time when their parents force them. They eye my collection, and instead of seeing simple collectibles, I am afraid that they just see dollar signs.
When their parents first started making them visit me, they were rather reluctant, having an attitude toward me, shutting themselves in my guest room, and burying themselves in their cellphones. However, when they finally took note of my Beanie Baby collection, things changed. Now when they visit they are far more cheerful, engaging me in pleasant conversation and helping me around the house. One time, they even brought a friend along to look at my collection.
I would like to believe that they are simply maturing in their characters, but a small part of me is afraid that they are only being nice to get at my collection.
Amy, I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but am I being too naive?
A. The whole collectible Beanie Baby phenomenon is either a very weird valuation “bubble” of sorts, or a genuine gold mine — depending on what Beanie Babies you possess and what source you check to determine their value.
Your attitude toward your granddaughters is ... less than ideal. Of course these teens are interested in this collection of yours! Isn’t this something you have in common?
You could connect with them by enlisting their help to research the value of some of these specific toys. Questions to ask yourself are: Do you view these toys as an investment, with plans to try to sell them someday? Or do you simply enjoy the process of collecting them?
How do you imagine that your granddaughters would “get at” your collection? Do you believe they are hoping that you will give them some of these collectibles, or leave these toys to them after your death? Do you fear that they will be tempted to take them?
I suggest that you choose to see your granddaughters as being like the most valuable Beanie Babies in your collection: in pristine condition, complete with their original tags.
If you expressed as much curiosity and interest toward them as you have invested in your collection, then your relationship would be more solid, and you might be closer and more confident about their motives today.
Q. As an adoptee and a birth parent, I have to correct your advice to “Anguished Aunt,” the sister who disregarded her brother’s wishes to have contact with his biological daughter.
Going against her brother’s wishes to connect with his daughter was bad enough. Please do not encourage her to violate his wishes again by getting the grandmother involved. This sister has no sense of boundaries, and I doubt she knows when to stop.
If he were dead, I’d say go for it, but he is the father, and while he’s alive it is his choice. This is his life, his daughter, his decision.
DNA results can open up lots of pain and resentment once thought (and often promised) forever in a vault.
A. Thank you for offering your perspective. Other readers agree with you.
This was not described as a case of a child surrendered for adoption with sealed records, but of a biological father who simply did not know he had fathered a daughter, 40 years ago.
The adult daughter was finding and welcoming contact with her biological family members — as it is anyone’s right to try to do.
The biological father did not want to have any relationship with her, which is his choice to make. But he also didn’t want any of his family members to have a relationship with her.
In my opinion, he should not be able to control all contact with other biological family members. They are all adults, and should be permitted to try to form relationships with one another, if they choose.
Q. The questions you receive about weddings — and controlling “Bridezillas” — astound me. Thank you for quoting Miss Manners recently: “Wedding guests are people, not props.”
A. Miss Manners is a true fount of timeless wisdom. I borrow from the best.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.