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by Abigail Van Buren

Questions About New Mom's Age Get Old Really Quick

DEAR ABBY: I am 42 and recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I had my last child at 37. One day I encountered a very rude woman. She raved about how cute my baby was and then proceeded to ask me if he was my grandson! In this day and age, many women have babies in their 40s and beyond. I would never ask a woman of any age that question. I know from experience that it can ruin her day.

I realize I'm old enough to be the grandmother, but the point is that I am not. Since I'm five years older now, I'm sure I'll encounter the same situation. I wonder if I should wear a button that says, "No, I'm not the grandmother. I'm the mother."

Another impertinent question I have been asked is, "Are you going to have your tubes tied now?" Abby, it is no one's business!

Can you please tell me what to say when rude people ask me these questions? -- "GREAT" BUT NOT "GRAND" MOTHER

DEAR MOTHER: When someone asks if you're the baby's grandmother, smile and reply, "Why do you ask?" If the person is rude enough to answer that you appear too old to be the mother, inform him or her that you ARE the child's mother and you feel that's "grand"!

When asked if you're going to have your tubes tied, reply, "If that were any of your business, you would already know the answer to that question."

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for your response to "Unglued in Massachusetts," who was offended when people use a preprinted mailing label on their correspondence. You asked her what was more important -- the envelope or its contents.

I am a deaf, legally blind man with partially paralyzed fingers on my writing hand. I use the labels for mailing, and give them to people in places like repair shops and medical offices when I'm asked for my personal information.

Abby, my handwriting looks like a doctor's prescription written on a plane in heavy turbulence. However, even in my condition, I still get the impression people think it is rude of me to use the labels. -- SCOTT E. JOHNSTON, APOPKA, FLA.

DEAR SCOTT: Your reasons for using preprinted labels are practical and sensible. Common sense has to rule. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am a retired U.S. postal employee and would like to inform "Unglued" that the U.S. Postal Service recommends and prefers preprinted mailing labels in place of handwritten names and addresses. Our automation equipment can read legible preprinted labels at an enormous rate of speed, thus getting the mail to the addressee much quicker. -- BOB MIKRUT, GLEN ELLYN, ILL.

DEAR BOB: Thank you for writing. For anyone who doesn't know it, the Postal Service also prefers envelopes on which addresses have been typed in capital letters with no punctuation marks.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "HEARTBROKEN PARENTS": "Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another's beliefs, practices and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them." -- Joshua Liebman

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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