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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I was recently driving on a Southern California freeway. About 25 feet in front of me, a car in the other lane had an arm pointing out the window, "shooting" a gun at people. Because it was a bright, sunny day, I could see the arm belonged to a young child whose gun was only a toy.

Had this incident occurred at night, however, I would never have known it was a child pointing a toy gun. I might have thought it was an adult pointing a real gun. The results could have been tragic for the kid and anyone else in the car.

Abby, I don't think children should be allowed to have toy guns, but if their parents allow it, that's their choice. These same parents should realize that in certain circumstances -- and even neighborhoods -- those guns may not be SEEN as toys.

In this sometimes crazy world we live in, situations like this probably do occur and often with dreadful endings. There is no reason for something like this to happen. I hope parents of small children who have toy guns will prevent their kids from doing this before it's too late. -- CONCERNED COMMUTER, SANTA ANA, CALIF.

DEAR CONCERNED: On behalf of parents of small children everywhere, thank you for the warning. For safety's sake, children riding in vehicles should wear seatbelts and keep their hands and arms inside at all times. And since it's not unusual for incidents of road rage and drive-by shootings to appear on the evening news, parents should be especially careful about letting their children play with toy weapons while riding in automobiles. At the risk of sounding overly cautious, it could avert a tragedy.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 19-year-old woman who, against my parent's wishes, was recently married. They didn't attend my wedding and told me they would disown me if I got pregnant before I was 24 or so.

Well, three weeks after we were married I became pregnant. I'm now a month along and my husband's family knows all about it. How do I tell my family? They're already mad at me for dropping out of college and refusing to pay them back for what they agreed to pay for, and I'm afraid this will terminate any relationship we have.

I don't know what to do. Any advice you could give me would be helpful. -- SCARED TO SPEAK UP

DEAR SCARED: Waste no time in telling your mother the joyous news that she'll be a grandmother by the end of next summer. Since your in-laws already know the big news, and your pregnancy will be showing in no time, attempting to keep it a secret would be like trying to smuggle dawn past a rooster.

You are an adult now, and it's time you began shouldering responsibility for your actions. Your parents' disappointment in you might be lessened if you show the willingness and maturity to work out a payment plan for the money they feel is owed them.

P.S. I'm betting they won't disown you after all.

DEAR ABBY: I have been living with a widower of 11 years for the past 10 years. He still insists on putting flowers on his dead wife's grave after all this time. I feel that I am being played second fiddle to his wife. Am I wrong to feel this way? -- SECOND FIDDLE IN VIRGINIA

DEAR SECOND FIDDLE: Yes, you are wrong. Your gentleman friend's devotion to the memory of his deceased wife has nothing to do with his relationship with you -- unless YOU choose to regard it as a competition. That line of thought is destructive to a relationship. Instead, regard his gesture as a measure of the amount of love he has to give to you. He sounds like a gem.

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-size, 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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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