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by Abigail Van Buren

Fighting Over Piano Lessons Is Not Music to Mom's Ears

DEAR ABBY: Our daughter, "Naomi," who is 8 years old, has been taking piano lessons for three years. In recent months she seems to have lost interest in the piano, and it's a struggle to get her to practice. I usually lose my temper, and she ends up in tears.

I finally gave up trying to force her to practice. My theory is that unless she is motivated by her own desire to learn, it's not worth the hassle -- not to mention the money we're wasting on lessons.

My husband disagrees. He thinks we should make Naomi practice no matter how much she hates it. I should also mention that our son, "David," who is now 13, was allowed to quit taking violin lessons three months ago because of his many school obligations, plus making the football team -- which his father wholeheartedly approved of.

Naomi is angry. She can't understand why we let her brother quit his music lessons, but we are not allowing her to quit.

What do you think, Abby? If you have a solution my husband will listen to, perhaps we can have some peace in this house. -- FIGHTING IN FLORIDA

DEAR FIGHTING: Assuming that David started taking violin lessons when he was 5, he has had eight years of music lessons. In order to treat both children equally, Naomi should take music lessons for another five years.

Don't give up so easily. Tell Naomi she may quit when she's 13, if she wants to.

For what it's worth, I have had numerous letters from readers saying they were forced to take music lessons and they hated it at the time, but later on, they were glad they weren't allowed to quit when they begged to.

However, readers have never written to say they regretted getting a musical education -- even though they often practiced with tears in their eyes.

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for suggesting that licking envelopes and postage stamps is unsanitary, then recommending a damp sponge instead. Right on.

Many years ago, when I was living in a college dormitory, I noticed that my postage stamps were not sticking to the envelopes no matter how much I licked them. Then I discovered that cockroaches were eating the glue off the stamps! With everyone in the dorm getting cookies from home, it was impossible to rid the dorm of roaches.

Now that I have my own home and am confident that it is free of bugs, I lick without worrying. -- JOHN WAYLAND, WACO, TEXAS

DEAR JOHN: Better keep your tongue in your mouth. I learned the hard way that storing those brown paper grocery sacks is not a good idea. The glue on the sacks attracts not only cockroaches, but mice and rats, too. (Sorry if I spoiled your breakfast.)

People are eating them up! For Abby's favorite recipes, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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