Not sure how to deal with family drama!
August 2, 2011 2:20 PM   Subscribe

How do I avoid a potentially upsetting and tricky family situation in an already stressful event?

Some details: I'm leaving for Norway for a year on Thursday, and my parents/boyfriend are coming to the airport to see me off. While I am super excited about studying abroad, I am already stressed and sad about leaving my boyfriend until Christmas (we will be just dandy, it will be hard but we've done the long distance thing before) and from past experiences, anticipate that I will be an emotional wreck at the airport (which is also just fine by me). Parents are fine with this.

Here's the problem: My movement restricted grandparents have somehow decided to come along, and have decided that I will drive them to the airport and my boyfriend will drive them back. Normally, I would be happy to have them along, but right now my Grandpa has mobility issues, is extremely grumpy, and will add a large amount of stress to an already difficult situation (i.e. yelling at me to get on the plane before I'm ready....its been done before). My Grandpa cannot drive right now, and Nana refuses to drive through Toronto. I am also upset that they have decided that I would drive them without asking when in all honesty, I would rather spend my last hour with my boyfriend.

Other problem: My mom and my grandparents (her parents) are not on the greatest of terms right now (external family drama that has nothing to do with me) and has told me flat out that my grandparents are not coming. There's a number of factors for this, but mainly that having my grandpa there would cause stress and friction for all people around. Not sure if she has talked to my grandparents about this.

So, stuck between my parents and grandparents in an awkward place, what should I do? Should I leave them to sort it out and deal with the consequences? Hoping to find a solution that makes everyone happy, but I am not seeing it at this point.
posted by snowysoul to Human Relations (19 answers total)
Can you go see them the day before? I personally wouldn't want the grands there, and I certainly am going to be TOO BUSY MOVING TO NORWAY to drive their asses to the airport.

But yeah, this is not your problem to solve. Tell them you can't do it.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:25 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Disinvite everyone. Have boyfriend drop you off at airport.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:26 PM on August 2, 2011 [41 favorites]

Hi Grandpa,
Thank you for offering to see me off at the airport, but with everything going on I'm not going to be able to drive you there. I just have too much to do and I'm going to be very busy getting ready all day. [Perhaps we can meet up before then?] I'm going to miss you a lot and can't wait to see you when I get back!
posted by bleep at 2:27 PM on August 2, 2011 [10 favorites]

This is going to sound terrible, but since it already sounds like you'd rather not drive your grandparents to the airport to wish you farewell:

Can you stop at their place on the way to wish them farewell, and then just go? You can probably make something up about your boyfriend not being able to drive them back because he's making other stops, or because he has to go straight home to keep an appointment, or something.

You are going to have minimal consequences to deal with because you will be away for a year. If your grandparents have a beef with your mother, they're the ones that are going to snipe it out while you're studying abroad.
posted by juniperesque at 2:27 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thank the grandparents for offering to see you off, but you already have others going, and you won't be able to give them your full attentions in the excitement of saying goodbye. Tell them you'd rather spend time with them the day before you leave where there are much fewer distractions and you can enjoy your visit without the airport rush.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:28 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah... insist that you come to them the day before. Tell them you'll be a mess and you would feel terrible thinking that they would be uncomfortable. Be firm, and remember to send postcards from abroad.
posted by Blisterlips at 2:30 PM on August 2, 2011

Lie: "Boyfriend has an important [job/school/family] thing to do after he drops me off."
posted by griphus at 2:32 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Start with the truth, for which other posters have given you good suggestions on wording.

If they still won't accept it, lie.

If that doesn't work, get your parents or boyfriend to run interference to change their plans.

Worst case scenario: "forget" to pick them up. Shitty? Hell yes. But probably worth it.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:34 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding roomthreeseventeen. No drama at the airport. You have too much to deal with already. Have a parting dinner with parents, lunch with grandparents and consider your obligation fulfilled.
posted by gertzedek at 2:35 PM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Everyone's got it right, but I would only add: if your parents and/or grandparents are paying for this or financially supporting you through this upcoming year, then you have some obligation to them. If they're not involved materially, then just be an adult about this, be active rather than reactive, and communicate with these people.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:43 PM on August 2, 2011

Okay this is sneaky, time consuming and a pain but probably the most avoidant of boat-rocking -- you could tell the grandparents that it's really important to you to get to the airport super early. If your Grandpa pressures you to get on planes early then he will probably be down with this. So you guys get there like an extra hour early, say goodbye to the grandparents, the boyfriend drives them back home. Then he comes back alone and you spend the last hour together. All the better if you can find someone else to drive the grandparents home after the goodbye.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:53 PM on August 2, 2011

You could also tell them that you want your last hour with them to be time without distractions or rushing, so that you can all enjoy each other and talk. This will be a better way to remember them while you're away.
posted by amtho at 3:08 PM on August 2, 2011

if your parents and/or grandparents are paying for this or financially supporting you through this upcoming year, then you have some obligation to them.

Perhaps they are entitled to a special show of gratitude -- but they don't get to determine what that is. That's not how giving and gratitude work. As long as you make an effort to visit them and say goodbye and make them feel appreciated, you have fulfilled whatever obligation you have to them, and you can make your own airport plans with impunity.
posted by hermitosis at 3:10 PM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

More obstacles to mention that make it better for you to say goodbye to your grandparents at their home instead:

<> The parking area is far away from the terminal which will be difficult for Grandfather.
<> You have to go through security anyway and they won't be allowed to accompany you.
<> You think you'll get really emotional if they come with you and you don't want to make a scene.

Bon voyage!

posted by carmicha at 3:32 PM on August 2, 2011

The best thing to do will be to tell them the truth and have a farewell lunch/visit/cup of tea or whatever beforehand, as others have said. If you can't bear to do that and want an excuse, you could maybe tell them that you can't drive them because there isn't room with all your suitcases. (Warning: may not work if your grandparents are all at aware of current airline pricing structures, depending on your personal finances.)
posted by solipsism at 5:13 PM on August 2, 2011

Are your grandparents willing to take a taxi/car service to the airport?
posted by brujita at 9:28 PM on August 2, 2011

At the risk of being morbid, how would you feel about lying to or blowing off your grandparents if one or both of them were to pass away while you are in Norway? Please don't lie to them or "forget to pick them up." That would be completely shitty.

However, you are perfectly entitled to determine who goes to the airport and who doesn't. I like the idea of a farewell visit with them and a separate farewell with your parents; gertzedeck has it right.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:32 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Make your parent(s) deal with their parents. They probably have some right to be at the airport if they want, but you don't have the obligation to be their chauffeur.
posted by gjc at 6:13 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

It used to make sense to go along to the airport to see someone off since they had to wait around until the flight took off, but this hasn't made sense since non-ticketholders aren't allowed past security (which is about 10 years ago now). I mean, I rarely get out of the car when I do the airport drop-off these days, even when I've been in the honeymoon-stage-can't get-enough-of-you-phase of a relationship.
Arrival? Having a crowd at arrival makes some sense since you have to wait 20 minutes for the checked baggage and the traveler usually needs someone to watch something while they find a restroom. But it doesn't make sense anymore to have a crowd see you off at the airport these days- it's often a long drive for not much time.

So just call up the grandparents and explain that it will not be possible and does not makes sense for them to come to the airport to see you off, but arrange a visit as close as possible to your departure so that they feel like part of the event.
posted by aabbbiee at 9:34 AM on August 3, 2011

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