Dear Amy: I am a recently retired teacher in the Central NY area, and I’m in a bit of a quandary.
Several years ago, a student brought in a rare collection of objects belonging to his grandfather.
He left them behind when he exited my classroom, so I put them in a bag and put them in my desk drawer to give to him later.
I completely forgot to hand them off to him all those years ago, and while cleaning out before retirement in June, I came across them, with no memory of who this boy is!
I believe these items are worth quite a bit of money and I want to return them, however, I’ve completely blanked out on who brought them in!
What should I do with these?
My husband suggested selling them and giving the proceeds to a worthy charity.
I like the idea, but they are not mine to sell. Thoughts?
— Teacher in a Quandary
Dear Teacher: You should make more of an effort to find the rightful owner of these heirlooms before you decide on next steps.
I suggest using social media to try to find the child who originally left these items with you. It will be a great test of the reach and positive connections that are enabled when you ask for help solving a mystery.
You could start by posting this Q&A on Facebook.
Your school likely has a Facebook page that will permit a posting. Your local area or township might have a community listserv that will publish your query.
Also reach out to fellow teachers, the PTA, and any other parent and alumni groups affiliated with your school district.
You could post a photo of one of the objects, which might jog some memories. (If the owner emerges, you could ask them to identify other objects in the collection in order to verify the ownership.)
Ask others to share your post, and frame this as a generous and fun community challenge.
There have been some truly impressive lost-and-found stories (of wedding rings found on beaches or old photographs that cry out for identifying). You have an advantage because you are dealing with a known community of staff, students, and parents.
I’d love to think that your effort will eventually become a great lost-and-found success story, and I hope you’ll keep in touch to let readers know how things turned out.
Dear Amy: My husband and I have a disabled child, whose needs are complex. We have been blessed to find a reliable, kind, and hardworking caregiver, “Shelly,” who is a wonderful fit for us.
Unfortunately, Shelly is also very creative and generous. She makes us food, clothes, and items of home décor, none of which suit our needs or taste.
She eagerly expects us to eat, wear, and/or prominently display her gifts, into which she obviously puts a great deal of effort.
I have tried subtly mentioning that my diet is strict or that my skin is sensitive to certain fabrics or that the knick-knacks on my shelves collect dust, but to no avail.
Today, Shelly showed up with a huge, homemade holiday sculpture for our front yard.
How can I clearly discourage her generosity without hurting her feelings, which I would never, ever want to do?
— Overwhelmed in Georgia
Dear Overwhelmed: “Shelly” is obviously a kind and generous person, but you should set some firmer boundaries.
Sit down with her. Say, “This is awkward and hard to bring up, but I hope you understand. We are so lucky and grateful to have you with us. We value you so much. But we really cannot continue to accept any more gifts from you. Your gift to us is the wonderful care you provide, and that’s all we want or need.”
I don’t think this will necessarily stop the heaping helpings of food and gifts, but it might slow her down. Readers may want to weigh in.
Dear Amy: “I Don’t Get It” was texting with his date for that night, and when she didn’t respond to one of his texts, he dropped her!
I can’t believe you agreed with him.
Dear Upset: The couple had confirmed plans. She didn’t respond to his text on the day, but then responded very late that night as if nothing was going on.
It is easy to retrace a text trail to see who dropped the ball. She was sending a pretty clear message.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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