Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a 3-year-old boy and a 2-month-old daughter. Like any proud parent, I love the chance to show off my children and the attention we receive in supermarkets, church, the mall, etc.

People constantly stop to comment on "that adorable baby." They ask her age, who she looks like, how much she weighed at birth ... whatever is on their minds. I'm always happy to talk, but I dread it now because they ignore my son. Through the interviews, his little face is bright and interested, but his sweet face crumples when he realizes that, yet again, no one notices him. It breaks my heart to see him hurt like that.

Please remind your readers that children of all ages have feelings. He's so proud of being the big brother, and he would love to tell anyone about her -- if only they would ask him. Even one question directed to him would make his day. It's hard for a child suddenly to go from being the only child to invisible when a baby is around.

Friends who stopped by with gifts for the baby were no different. They give him a pat on the head and say, "No, this is for your sister." I anticipated that and kept little gifts wrapped for him in case visitors forgot him, but it's not the same. Anything, even a balloon meant especially for him, would have made his day.

Older children don't need anything expensive; they just want to know they are remembered. A little gesture would mean the world and might prevent some deep-rooted sibling resentment. -- OLDEST SIBLING, TOO

DEAR OLDEST SIBLING: Thank you for a wonderful letter. Most people don't mean to be unkind to the older children -- they just forget that big brother or big sister still need a little attention, too. Your letter should jog their memories, but please don't leave it up to strangers or acquaintances to include the older children. Take it upon yourself to include them in your conversations and encourage them to speak up. It will help them to develop social skills.

DEAR ABBY: Many a food server has lost a tip because of the following comments:

1. Do you guys want anything else?

2. Your hair sure is pretty. Where do you have it done?

3. That's a beautiful blouse. Where did you buy it? How much was it?

This has happened to my husband and me in all types of restaurants. When we go out to dine, we do not care to carry on a personal conversation with the person who has been hired to serve us. -- EX-WAITRESS

DEAR EX: This may have happened to you in "all types" of restaurants, but in first-class restaurants, food servers know better than to ask, "Do you guys want anything else?" Comments about the customer's grooming and wearing apparel are also inappropriate.

You could have given your server(s) a tip far more valuable than money if you had spoken up.

DEAR ABBY: I read with great amusement the letter from the "Sasebo Sailor" whose Filipino wife feared he had a "sweetheart in every port."

During my 29 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, my wife asked me that question only once -- to which I responded, "No dear, I don't have a sweetheart in every port; I haven't BEEN to every port."

We are still happily married and looking forward to our 40th wedding anniversary in three years. -- E.E. MORAN, CAPT., USCG (RET.) CHESAPEAKE, VA.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600