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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Would you please do all the parents of small children (babies especially) a big favor and tell the manufacturers of infant and toddler clothing to stop labeling the clothes by age (3 to 6 months, 18 months, etc.)? Nothing could be more irrelevant.

Our 4-month-old son is in the 95th percentile for length and weight for his age group. His clothes labels read 12 and 18 months. His pediatrician says he is in all respects normal -- just big (every bit of 21 pounds).

If clothes were labeled by weight and/or length, making an appropriate purchase without trying to wriggle an overtired infant into the outfit first might be possible. As it is, I have drawers full of sweatsuits given to my baby by well-meaning friends who thought they'd be just right for next winter since the label reads "12 months." Most of these clothes fit him now.

We live in Florida and the thermometer hit 90 degrees yesterday. What a shame. Had the clothes been labeled according to weight, since he was 9 1/2 pounds at birth, most people could have guessed he'd be at least three or four times that size a year later. I imagine parents of "preemies" have similar problems -- PAT IN ST. PETE

DEAR PAT: Your suggestion makes sense. Let's hope the folks who manufacture infant and toddler clothing take note.

DEAR ABBY: My stepdaughter "Susie" and her husband, who live out of state and rarely communicate with us, came to visit us last year. Their visit was complicated by the fact that they invited another couple (whom we had never met) and their two children to join them. We made special sleeping accommodations and fed all six of them for several days.

I was ignored, talked down to and insulted by both Susie and her friend "Betsy" during the entire visit. Neither woman offered to help with the meals or dishes -- they just sat while I waited on them. When it was time for them to leave, neither Susie nor Betsy said goodbye or thank you. They simply disappeared into their van while I stood there with tears in my eyes and egg on my face!

Now, Susie is making plans to use our home as a stop-over for several days next year -- and she's bringing Betsy and family along. I told my husband that I could tolerate Susie and her husband if I had to, but I would not have Betsy and her family as houseguests again.

Abby, am I justified in my decision, and how should this be handled without offending my husband's family? -- FRUSTRATED IN FLORIDA

DEAR FRUSTRATED: You are indeed "justified" in your decision, and if any of your husband's family are offended, they need only be told that you do not wish to accommodate guests who come uninvited and leave without so much as a goodbye or thank-you.

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