Ask Amy: Mom crosses line with teacher

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Dear Amy: I taught elementary school for 34 years and had thousands of students, (many of whom have become friends over the years). They have invited me to their graduations and weddings and have kept in touch.

However, one woman has taken this friendliness too far by telling her young son (a former student) that I am his "grandmother." She sends me cards addressed to "Mom" and has made me feel very uncomfortable.

She showed up at my house when I was baby-sitting for my youngest grandson and stayed for seven hours.

My husband has cancer; he could not sleep because her son and my grandson were too noisy. I finally begged her to leave.

Since then, I have received numerous emails, calls and cards telling me that her son is brokenhearted because he wants to see his "Grandma" and asking when we can get together.

I told her that I need space and time to care for my husband, as he is undergoing treatment, but I can't seem to get through to her.

I do not want her son to call me "Grandma." I feel as if this relationship has become too demanding, and I am almost frightened by her relentless pursuit. I do not want to be rude to her or to hurt her or her son's feelings.

I just want to be a friend — as in former teacher — and not "Mom" or "Grandma." How can I communicate this effectively?

— Flustered

Dear Flustered: You should utilize your decades of experience and teaching skills and communicate with this woman the way you would a second-grader.

Say to her (by voice and/or email) "Please don't have your son call me 'Grandma.' I don't like it, and I don't permit any former students to call me this because it is potentially very confusing for everyone.

"I also need you to respect my privacy by not dropping by my house. My husband isn't well, and I cannot spare my attention. If there is ever a time I am free to get together, I will let you know, but otherwise please don't continue to ask me."

After that, if she intensifies her pursuit, and you feel genuinely frightened, you might have to talk to the police.

Dear Amy: My fiance and I have both always dreamed of a lovely catered beach wedding, but those are pricey, and we can only invite our immediate family (parents and siblings) due to our strapped finances.

Both his giant Irish family and my giant Swedish family are livid at us for not including them, even though we have promised to have a big barbecue potluck for everyone after the honeymoon.

We have been told to save money by going to the local park with clergy from my parents' church and have a potluck reception there, but it is not what my fiance and I want.

We would really like to have our dream wedding. Yeah, not inviting our favorite cousins hurts. The digs about petty materialism are starting to get to me. I do wonder now if I'm picking stupid stuff over my family, but I feel that I will be happier with the elegant intimate wedding than the huge cheap one.

Do you have any suggestions? Is it worth it to live our dream and upset our families, or sacrifice that for the sake of harmony? Please help!

— Wedding-Tug-of-War

Dear Tug-of-War: You should do what you want, but I think you should also consider wanting something different.

Your family should not bully you, but, truly, you only have one family, and they're not trying to horn in on your elegant time, they just want to see you tie the knot.

One solution would be for you to have your inclusive family wedding, followed by an elegant, perfect, unforgettable honeymoon.

Dear Amy: I could have written the letter from "Potential Grad Student." She was wondering about switching fields and going into debt to finance grad school in the medical field.

Many health care organizations will pay for some schooling. That's how I did it. It took awhile, but I got there.

— Career Switcher

Dear Switcher: Well done. Congratulations.

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