Dear Amy: I’m an old cowboy. My wife is from the country, but not from a ranching background.
She and her children are well educated but they lack any kind of practical ranching common sense (their advanced degrees are more of a hindrance on the ranch).
They seem to think that their business, law and medical degrees make them superior. Yet every time they visit, their ignorance is proven, over and over again. Even though I have asked them multiple times not to bring their dogs to the ranch, they do. They have killed chickens and injured other livestock.
They don’t close gates. They bring their dogs in the house.
They take the grandkids out to the corrals and let them give “treats” to the horses.
After 10 years, I’m at the end of my rope. My wife doesn’t like conflict, especially with her kids and grandkids. She makes really good money and thinks she can just pay the vet bills or repair bills or replace an animal.
She doesn’t understand that I’ve spent a lifetime building my herds and I’m not going to introduce any old animal into my herds as a replacement — I’m going to have to breed a replacement.
I’m at my wits end. I don’t want to ban people from the ranch.
Short of divorce, any advice would be appreciated. — An Old Cowboy
Dear Cowboy: I grew up on a dairy farm and while not a ranch (far from it), I do know that any farmer’s primary responsibility is to protect his livestock from predators — human or otherwise.
So, cowpoke, I’m suggesting that you pull on your chaps, one leg at a time, and take charge of your animals. You owe it to them.
Stop reacting to infractions. Start preventing them.
The next time these city slickers visit, you should post some rules to the ranch. Write them down and tack them near the front door of the house and also on the barn:
“No dogs near the livestock unless they are on a leash.”
“No humans visiting the livestock without me present.”
Hang dog leashes near the front door, and make sure the leashes are used.
Show these grandchildren how to be ranchers. Take them with you to inspect your herd. Roust them out of bed for early morning rides. When the vet visits, take the kids with you while the animals are receiving treatment.
The reason I suggest that you focus on the children is that kids are (usually) great at respecting rules, as long as you explain why the rules are in place and are consistent in enforcing them.
Dear Amy: I’ve been a professional woman my whole adult life and always have been treated with respect. I’ve always treated others with politeness and respect.
After turning 75, things suddenly changed: My first name is “Marilyn” and I’m now called “Miss Marilyn” by store clerks, receptionists, salespeople, dental hygienists, nurses, accountants, drug store employees and more.
Anyone who has sight of my name immediately calls me “Miss Marilyn.”
It makes me feel demeaned and diminished.
Have I fallen into a Twilight Zone of Old Age Names? Am I the new title actor in “Driving Miss Daisy”? Am I destined to be called by a name I don’t like?
Can you help? — NOT Miss Marilyn
Dear Marilyn: I assume this practice originates in the American South. I also assume that many elders do like it.
I infer that it would not bother you if people referred to you either by your first name alone, or as “Miss” or “Ms” and your last name — but you feel condescended to or marginalized when called “Miss Marilyn.”
Understand, however, that many people have been raised with the understanding that anyone old enough to be their parent (or older) should be addressed using an honorific. This is well-meaning.
Where they fail is when they place it in front of your first name, instead of your surname.
You could correct people as you go, but I also believe that you should recognize the effort people are making to show you respect.
And if this makes you feel old, I hope you will own it with pride.
Dear Amy: “No Package Deal” was a 45-year-old woman who was desperate to have a baby with a guy who hung out with his ex every weekend.
I’m glad you cautioned her; this guy is obviously not partner and father material. — Been There
Dear Been There: Yes, he seemed more devoted to his ex.