DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I think I may "love" my girlfriend, but then she said it and I felt awkward if I didn't, so I said it, too. Now she's telling everyone we're almost engaged and she's hinting at what our children would look like. Whoa! I'm just creeping up on the love thing. How do I get her to back off without breaking her heart? The wheels are running faster and faster. I can't take it back, or she will be shattered. Help! -- Spoke Too Soon, West Kildonan
Dear Spoke Too Soon: Tell her you expressed early feelings, not commitment or plans of any kind. If she doesn't go along with that, you may have to back off. One frank talk with a relationship counsellor on your own could help you clarify your feelings and where they are headed -- up or down. Frankly, we can't marry everyone we think we love. Love is just the hot water of relationship soup, but you need to add to that many areas where you are happily compatible. Are the ingredients in your Love Soup thick or thin, tasty or disagreeable? How suitable are you as long-term partners? Finally, do you really want a woman as pushy as this?
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My hands gave my children a roof over their heads, love, meals and cookies, drove the car and took them camping. Now my spoiled kids are in their 30s and can't even come over to help me cut the grass once a week, wash the windows for fall, help with my yard work or garden. Lord knows I would give them half of my veggies. What has happened to today's kids they don't even feel obligated to help out the parent who is now older and trying to maintain independence? All they want to do is dump their brats on me for babysitting three times a week and they don't even want to stay to talk -- in and out and they're gone! What was the point of bringing up these three kids who don't have time to pay back their old mother? -- Angry Mother, Downtown
Dear Angry: There's a reason people choose to be together or avoid one another. When your offspring come over, do you go on about your physical ailments and/or hint at chores you want them to do? It is hard to get out of the idea that your age 30-plus "kids" owe you to do their garden and shovel your walks, especially if they have busy families.
They do owe you money for extensive babysitting, however. Tell them you need to quit and get a paying job for yard help. With two jobs, your "kids" can get a different babysitter, or they may finally pay you, then you could hire a neighbourhood teenager to do yard work. Why should you? Your kids may truly not have the time. People these days are over-extended with two working parents, kids, shopping, meals to prep and their own yards to do.
Do you seriously think their kids are bratty? If so, it'd be best if you got too busy to be able to babysit regularly. When you see them socially, get the kids involved in board games and involve the parents -- make it a party and a way for three generations to play together and have some fun. This would make for a better relationship all around.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6