Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

One of my dearest hopes has come true: my granddaughter has come
to live with me for the summer. She is a delightful young woman of
sixteen, intelligent and creative, but sadly she also suffers from a set
of symptoms that make it unpredictable when she will become faint,
weak, and need to take a long rest. It is hard to diagnose and treat
but the doctor recommended that she join me for my morning aqua-
robics class, because the exercise will be good for her and I will be
around to supervise any emergencies. I need the class for my own
medical and go six days a week.


In addition, my physical therapist has
added a workout on a specific machine that is surprisingly popular at
the gym. Before Sarah came I was leaving early to get access to it.
That means leaving the house 6:30 latest, which is still a sprint. I
don’t have time to coax a reluctant teenager out of bed, and the
struggle is not helping our otherwise good relationship. We have only
one car. Though she has promised to use it later and go to the gym, in
a week of staying with us she has accompanied me once and gone on
her own only once. That’s not what I promised her mother. Can you


Dear Nana:

It’s time for a family meeting. That means not just you and your
granddaughter, but also your daughter via Skype. I suggest a
discussion with your daughter beforehand, not to alarm her but to
establish what will constitute appropriate agreements and
consequences for failure to comply with the agreements. Teenagers
are notoriously balky about both getting out of bed (and even some
adults might bristle at leaving the house at 6:30) and also complying
with what might seem like reasonable health measure if they are
externally imposed. Hopefully you and momma agree about the
proposed schedule, and that all of you want your granddaughter with
you enough that the threat of returning home will be a sufficient

Let her air all her “grievances” and excises first and try to listen
respectfully. Then state clearly that the terms of her visit had been
verbal not written, but for her to continue to be in your care requires
adherence to her exercise schedule, as well as whatever other house-
related agreements re helping with cooking, cleaning, shopping etc
seem reasonable. Ask if she wants to stay given those boundaries. And
then act accordingly. A sign on the fridge that says, The gym bus leaves
at 6:30 will reinforce your point.