As she looked at the letter, the red from her rage seeped out onto the paper.
It wasn’t the usual grandma offenses. She didn’t load the girl up with sugar, let her stay up past her bedtime, or bring down an uncalled for punishment. No – what the old woman did was much, much worse.
It was an understatement to say that Sophie and her mother had never quite seen eye-to-eye.
As soon as she finished college, she got as far away as possible. Her two siblings follow suit and all the Miller sisters put an entire state between themselves and their estranged mother. But then grandchildren came into the picture.
Sophie thought that it was important for her daughter, Trish, to see her grandma from time to time.
It also gave here the chance to take personal vacations or even just have time alone at home. It seemed like the perfect solution. The first year, things went well. However, the second year things changed completely.
Her teenage daughter greeted her mom with an enthusiastic hug.
It had been three weeks and two plane rides, and they had both missed each other. However, before Sophie could ask how things went, the girl handed her mom a manila envelope. She tore it open and started to read. Then … the rage built.
It seemed that Grandma Miller had made sure that 14-year-old Trish would have a good time while she was visiting.
She had planned everything down to the last detail. Train rides into the city, museums, galleries, and restaurants. It was quite impressive. But then, the old woman did something outrageous. She had sent Sophie and invoice for it all.
Mrs. Miller was a retired college professor, but to her daughters, she was well-known for being severe, petty, and emotionally cold.
But this? It was insane. Sophie kept reading the letter, dumbstruck. Her sisters would just say “told you so”, so who could she turn to for advice? The mom decided to reach out to an unexpected source.
She reached out to an advice column.
“Dear Amy, My mother lives in a beautiful lake house that has been in our family for 50 years, and for the second summer in a row, she had my (now 14-year-old) daughter to stay for three weeks.” Then, she let the word bombs drop.
In detail, she explained the visit and the resulting invoice.
Aside from never asking or being told about the excursions, she told the world how she had also sent a $300 cheque to cover any expenses while her daughter was there. The invoice, however, added a significant amount on top of it all.
Everything was itemized in detail – right down to bottles of water and tiny items that most people wouldn’t care about, things that only cost a few cents.
Was this grandmother teaching her daughter some kind of lesson? But the entire situation was hurtful for another huge reason. Something her sisters said she was crazy for doing.
“This is hurtful, as this past winter my mother came to live with us for four months and we paid for everything, including a nice vacation to an island over Christmas.”
Even with the enormous gesture, and never asking to be compensated, her mother still had no respect for her or any boundaries. But it didn’t end there.
“How do I address her behavior? I am hurt and angry by her decision to charge me for gas to pick up her granddaughter from the airport.”
“We have never asked her to pay for anything. We even write her a check for groceries when she hosts Thanksgiving dinner.” She continued to future plans.
“Now I feel she has taken advantage of my generosity, and I don’t trust her to spend time with my daughter because it is just too costly for me (financially and emotionally).”
The letter was signed off anonymously as ‘Burned by Grandma.’ But how much was the invoice for?
All in all, the total came to $475.50. And remember, that was on top of the $300 that Sophie sent with her daughter.
It’s no small amount of money. She also argued that she had never asked for any of the special outings. It had been entirely the grandma’s idea. It got worse when the advice back was incredibly unhelpful.
It would be no surprise to know that the advice columnist sat on the fence about everything.
Amy also asked more questions than giving answers or even a helpful nudge in the right direction. “Is your mother financially insecure? Is she worried about maintaining her own lifestyle in retirement?” The next paragraph made Sophie want to turn off the computer.
“You are going to have to express your concern directly to your mother. Your daughter’s trip to see Grammy has cost you (I’m estimating) around $1,000, with plane tickets, plus the invoiced expenses incurred while she was there.”
Hadn’t she made it clear that her mother was petty and uninterested in talking like an adult? Amy then pointed out something disturbing.
“Is this itemized bill her passive-aggressive way of telling you that she doesn’t actually want to host your daughter for such a long visit?”
The idea swelled in Sophie’s mind. Was the cold connection between mother and daughter an automatic transfer to granddaughter? Was this a manipulation to get out of the summer visits? Readers pointed out something important…
There had been no need what so ever for the grand holiday plans. They could have stayed in the lovely lake house.
Her daughter could have gone swimming (which she loved) and watched movies together. There were dozens of things that were free to do. Next, there was what the invoice represented.
To ask for money to help cover unexpected expenses is not the same as creating an invoice – especially since the woman had never done it before.
Perhaps, sadly, she viewed her granddaughter as a job rather than a family event. The other side had strong opinions as well.
Many thought that the grandma had no obligation to host the girl and Sophie should pay for everything because of one simple fact – she was her mother.
They told her she was obligated to pay and anything else would be an ungrateful woman taking advantage of free babysitting.
Grandma Miller had never asked ahead of time or even just before making the decision to go out on an expensive holiday.
Maybe she was simply using the situation to get free entertainment for herself and pass the bill to another. Either way, any future visits would have to be put on hold.