Ask Amy: Teacher should 'school' overstepping mom

FresnoMay 4, 2014 

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 frightened by her pursuit. I do not want to be rude 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: 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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