DEAR ABBY: As a first-time mother, I want to give our child the best. Since Nicholas is now 19 months old, he will soon be spending more time with his paternal grandparents. They crave all the time they can get with him, and he loves them dearly. It would also give my husband and me a much-needed break if Nicky could spend weekends and vacations with his grandparents.
The problem is their grammar. It is atrocious! The double negatives, the "ain'ts," the sloppy way they speak ("It's gonna rain Sa-erdee"), etc., just drive me batty! I don't want Nicky to speak that way. And suppose he picks up incorrect grammar from his grandparents -- am I to say, "Your grandparents are ignorant"?
Compounding the problem is the fact that I'm raising Nicky to be bilingual. I speak to him in Greek, and thus far that's the only language he speaks. He is sure to pick up English from playmates and other sources.
In spite of the rubbish that exists around most children today, I am determined that Nicky will speak properly, so I am at painful odds what to do about his grandparents' speech. Can you help me? -- NICKY'S MOTHER
DEAR MOTHER: Developing a close and loving relationship with his grandparents will be of greater value to Nicky than any protection you can give him against exposure to sloppy grammar.
As the daughter of Russian immigrants who came to America as young adults with virtually no knowledge of the English language, I somehow managed to learn how to speak properly. And so did they. And so will Nicky. Trust me.
DEAR ABBY: My neighbor lives a few short steps from my back door; we have adjoining yards, yet she calls me on the phone intermittently all day long -- just to chat. I wouldn't mind if she called once for a brief conversation, but she often calls three to four and even five times a day, just to ask me what I'm doing. She has invited me over for coffee, and I have invited her here -- but once she's here, she stays too long.
She's 35 years old, no children, and doesn't want any. I work for my husband's business in my home, and this neighbor is getting to be too much for me. I got an answering machine, and she leaves messages for me to call her. Should I call her back or ignore her messages? I hate to hurt her feelings, but I don't know what else to do. I've even considered moving, but why should I move when I love this house? -- STIFLED
DEAR STIFLED: You must tell your neighbor that just because you are home all day does not mean that you are not working; explain that you work for your husband during the day.
Suggest that she do volunteer work -- there are numerous good causes in every community. And if she continues to leave messages, do not return her calls.
CONFIDENTIAL: To those readers who have tried without success to locate the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse of Southern Minnesota, the address is: 285 18th St. S.E., Owatonna, Minn. 55060. The telephone number is (507) 455-1190. Child abuse is everyone's problem, but by working together, parents and professionals can break the cycle.
Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)
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