DEAR ABBY: I'm a 36-year-old "super mom." I'm active in PTA, shuttle our two daughters and their friends around town, play on a community softball team, go to a gym twice a week, and work Wednesdays in a small sports equipment store owned by my in-laws.
My older daughter, "Jenny" (a junior in high school), stopped by the store last Wednesday after school. A few minutes later a nervous-looking man entered. He asked me about some ski equipment, and then -- holding what he claimed was a gun in his pocket -- demanded money from the register.
Abby, if I had been there alone I would have walloped him and run for the door, but I didn't want to take any chances with my daughter there. I told him to take what he wanted and leave.
Well, that wasn't the end of it. He ordered us into the back room, told us to lie face down, bound our hands and feet with duct tape, gagged us and left. Despite heroic tugging and squirming, neither Jenny nor I could free ourselves. It was more than an hour before a customer came in, heard us moaning and found us trussed up in the back of the store.
Thinking back, I was more angry than scared during the time we lay bound. Mostly I was worried that Jenny would be traumatized for life. I felt completely helpless.
I could hardly believe what happened next. When we were freed, Jenny wasn't traumatized. She became furious -- at me! She literally screamed at me, "Why did you let him tie us up, Mom?" She apparently felt -- and still feels -- that we could have used kung fu on him or something.
Although I still think I did the right thing, I feel guilty that my daughter is disillusioned because her mother allowed someone to tie us up without a fight. I have gone from super mom to super schnook. Any ideas on how to win back my daughter's admiration? -- BOUND AND GAGGED, NEWTON, PA.
DEAR BOUND AND GAGGED: You acted appropriately. Real life is not a martial arts movie where heroines take risks and live beyond the closing credits. If you had tried to "wallop" the robber, one or both of you might not be alive today.
Don't be so quick to conclude that your daughter "wasn't traumatized." She is blaming you for what happened because she felt helpless and humiliated. Both of you could benefit from some short-term post-traumatic stress counseling so that what happened can be put in proper perspective.
DEAR ABBY: This may be a bit "racy" for your column, but consider it an alternative to your advice to "Furious in Adrian, Mich.," the 14-year-old whose ex-boyfriend wrongly claimed to have had sex with her.
Rather than forcing a potentially ugly confrontation, a more effective way to shut the guy up would be to follow an example related to me by a colleague from Italy:
A braggart once boasted to all who would listen that he'd had sex with the class beauty. When someone would mention it to her, she'd simply shrug it off by saying, "Yes, he tried -- but he was sooo small ..." -- NO BIG DEAL IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR N.B.D.: I'd like to take it a step further. Only a small-minded person would try to make himself look better by making another person look worse. People who brag about their sexual exploits are usually lying.
CONFIDENTIAL TO DEAREST MOM AND AUNT EPPIE: Happy birthday and love to the prettiest, wittiest "firecrackers" in the world. XXX -- JEANNE
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
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