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

DEAR ABBY: I am having problems with our neighbors and their child.

My husband and I are energetic, outgoing and like to get things done -- yard work, gardening, etc. These neighbors are the exact opposite. They hold down the couch most weekends and are proud to boast how lazy they are.

If they see we are out playing with our children, they send their child over uninvited and unwanted. I've never disliked a child before in my life, but she is rude, disrespectful, has no manners, and quite honestly, is not the kind of kid I want my children playing with.

I know that she has no parental supervision, so I can't help but feel sorry for her -- but I don't want her at my house.

I don't know what to say to the parents because I don't want to start a "hate thy neighbor" relationship. My husband is able to tolerate it to keep the peace, but with summer coming, I know it will only get worse.

Last summer, the parents and the kid would come over and stay past midnight. They never took the hint to go home! I don't want to get into last year's routine, and I'm tired of keeping my kids quiet and not answering the phone. What should I do? -- "HAD IT" IN HOUSTON

DEAR "HAD IT": The child is saddled with poor role models and desperately needs a friend. Make it clear to her that while she's a guest in your home, there are rules; then explain what they are. If she disobeys, send her home.

Do not tolerate the adults coming over uninvited even if you have to be blunt.

DEAR ABBY: In 1996, I purchased the most wonderful dress for my daughter's wedding. It was originally priced at more than $400, but I bought it on sale. I looked great in it. My sister called it the perfect mother-of-the-bride dress.

My son and his fiancee are planning their wedding for early next year. I'm now retired and couldn't possibly afford a dress to equal this one. His fiancee and one or two of his friends have seen the dress, but no one in her family has seen it.

Would it be the world's greatest faux pas for me to wear this dress for my son's wedding? -- MOTHER OF THE GROOM THIS TIME

DEAR MOTHER: No, it would not be a breach of etiquette. There is no reason why you shouldn't wear a dress that's been worn on only one other special occasion. It would be a shame for such a perfect dress to go to waste. You looked lovely in it once, so wear it to your son's wedding and look lovely in it twice.

DEAR ABBY: In a recent column, Dennis J. Eichelbaum wrote that his grandmother, Elizabeth Eichelbaum, is receiving her Ph.D. in art therapy from the University of Tennessee -- and she is 90 years old!

How remarkable! I started looking further and found an incredible list of people from all walks of life who never stopped creating, giving and thinking.

Goethe was past 80 when he completed "Faust"; Judge Learned Hand had served a record 52 years on the federal bench when he died in 1961 at age 89; Amos Alonzo Stagg was still coaching football when he was 100 years old! Not to mention Winston Churchill, Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Frank Lloyd Wright, and on and on and on. -- ARTHUR H. PRINCE, LOYAL READER FROM MEMPHIS, TENN.

DEAR ARTHUR: Let's not forget Georgia O'Keefe, George Burns, George Abbott, and a lot of others NOT named George!

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

More like Dear Abby