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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I paid $5,000 for a seven-day cruise with my grandkids. All I asked was for them to pack a carry-on and a backpack. My granddaughter and son are having a problem with it. I tried explaining that I'm handicapped and do not want to check a large bag for her because it's a convenience issue. There's laundry service onboard the ship.

When I went to help her pack, my son said I was being unreasonable, and is now threatening to cancel our time with our grandchildren! My husband and I are heartbroken. He ordered us to leave his home and said we were being ridiculous! I don't know what to think.

Am I being unreasonable? We never told them how much we have spent. We just explained that a checked bag would cause us more stress. We also rented a compact car for after our cruise to take the grands, who are 15 and 16, to the mall and a theme park. We don't understand the big deal. -- CRUISER GRANDMA

DEAR CRUISER: Your letter proves the truth of the adage "no good deed goes unpunished." To say your son overreacted would be an understatement.

As hosts, you and your husband have the right to issue some guidelines. Inexperienced travelers are often tempted to overpack, and that appears to be true here. If you haven't raised the subject with your son of the cost of the cruise and your worry about hauling around large pieces of luggage in the small rented car, you should. At least then he will understand why you have given "the grands" a limit. If they want to bring larger bags, the kids should be responsible for paying whatever additional cost there might be. At 15 and 16, both should also be able to lug around their own suitcases. It's a teaching opportunity!

Read more in: Money

New Mom Is Infatuated With Her Baby

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine had a baby several months ago. She behaves like she's the first and only woman ever to have given birth. It has consumed her to the point that she sends me at least half a dozen photos a day. When I try to shift the conversation to other things, she invariably brings the topic back to her baby. She left my wedding early without saying goodbye (she was in the wedding party!) to go be with her baby.

I wonder if giving her a subtle reality check would be helpful, or if it would destroy our friendship. I'd love for it to continue, but it seems like a one-way street. -- FRUSTRATED FRIEND

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Before giving your friend a reality check, I suggest giving yourself one. Your friend doesn't talk about anything else but the baby because nothing else is as important to her. By sending you those pictures, she isn't trying to annoy you. She's trying to include you in watching her precious little one develop. Because this bothers you to the extent that you would write to me about it, take a step back for a while rather than say anything to her that you may later regret.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors

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