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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Resents Being Drafted to Provide Free Child Care

DEAR ABBY: I have a major problem and don't know how to get out of this situation. I seem to be another parent's answer to free day care.

This woman calls me frequently to pick up her son from school. At first she told me her son hated the day care he went to and she had promised him he wouldn't have to go -- adding that her meeting had run longer than she thought it would, and if I could pick him up that would be really great. I did it several times.

Now she says she has taken him out of day care all together, and he'll just have to go to a friend's after school; that it shouldn't be much of a problem because it will only be once a month. I know she wanted me to offer, but I didn't because her child is very difficult.

She has started calling me at 2:50, right before I'm about to leave to get my son from school, saying her meeting ran long and asking me to get him for her. If I refuse, saying I have things I have to do, she gives me the third degree and asks why I can't take him along.

My youngest is enrolled in a drop-in program so that when I have a doctor's appointment I don't have to take him with me. That way there's less stress on the doctor and me. Yet, I find myself taking another person's child with me, which is more stressful than taking my 21-month-old because he, at least, minds to some extent. This other child will do nothing I ask him to do.

Abby, her son says words my son is not allowed to say, and he throws my son's expensive toys when he doesn't get his own way. My older son has asked me to please stop bringing this child home with us, and I have tried -- but his mother will not take no for an answer. What should I do? -- HAD ENOUGH IN TEXAS

DEAR HAD ENOUGH: This woman will continue to take advantage of you until you develop the backbone to tell her bluntly that you are no longer willing to be used in the way she is using you. You owe her no explanations and no excuses. You are treating her as you would a friend. But friendship is a two-way street, and she is not a friend -- she is a user.

What's sad about this is that the person who is suffering because of her lack of time and parenting skills is a little boy who is turning into a social pariah. But that's not your problem.

DEAR ABBY: Please settle something between my mother and me. I always wash new clothes before I wear them. My wife also washes her clothes and our twins' before they are worn.

My mother says this is ridiculous and unnecessary. I say that one doesn't know what the garments have been exposed to, or who has handled them or tried them on. She says I am the only one in the world who thinks this way.

Is my way all that unusual? I have a small stack of new clothes that await your answer. -- DALE GAMMELL, OMAHA, NEB.

DEAR DALE: No. Your way is not all that unusual. However, most people who like the look and feel of new clothes are reluctant to wash them. But others like you, who worry about where and on whom clothes have been, or who want to avoid that "brand-new" look, prefer to launder them before wearing them. To each his own.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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