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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am writing about a close call with my daughter that could have been catastrophic. Feel free to share this with your readers.

I had several errands to run and took my 6-year-old daughter along for company. She was well-behaved, and I wanted to reward her. I don't like to buy toys and treats as rewards, so I decided to allow her to help me on my next errand to show my appreciation.

I stopped at the gas station and got out to fill my car with gas. My daughter asked if she could help. I hesitated for a moment, and then decided it would be all right because I would hold the handle and she could stand next to me with her hand also on the handle of the nozzle. When she asked me about the numbers on the pump, I pointed to them with my free hand to explain. As I did so, the nozzle slipped a little and the gasoline hit the inside of the tank opening. This created a back splash that splashed gasoline into my daughter's face and eyes.

I was horror stricken, overwhelmed with panic when she screamed. I didn't know what to do and tried to calm her and wipe her face.

Fortunately, a mechanic at a nearby pump came running to help. He grabbed my daughter and ran to a sink in the garage and began flooding her eyes with water. He kept it up for a good five minutes and then located a water bottle from an emergency kit to continue flushing out her eyes.

Luckily, my daughter's sight was not damaged and she suffered only a slight burn on her head and arm.

Abby, I am mortified to have allowed such a stupid, dangerous thing to happen to my daughter. This experience taught me to be extremely cautious and never to allow my children to help me when chemicals or potentially dangerous items are being used.

This incident happened several years ago, but I was too embarrassed by my ignorance to write to you. After discovering that some of my friends allow young children to help them pump gasoline, I summoned up the courage to write this as a warning to other parents. Sign me ... MUCH WISER MOM IN FLORIDA

DEAR MOM: Thank you for the warning. I hope that other parents will learn from your near disaster.

DEAR ABBY: I recently walked in on my father-in-law kissing his other daughter-in-law. It wasn't a fatherly kiss. It was after a family dinner, and I was on my way to the bathroom when I saw them in an adjacent bedroom. I'm almost certain they know I saw them, and now I feel very awkward in front of them.

My husband has noticed my strange behavior and nervousness and is wondering why. Should I tell him what I saw? Or should I confront my sister-in-law and father-in-law? I don't want this to have an effect on my relationship with my in-laws, but I don't feel I can keep this to myself. I also would not like anyone to find out that I knew what was going on and said nothing. -- GROSSED OUT AND CONFUSED, NEW GALILEE, PA.

DEAR CONFUSED: Tell your husband what you saw. It's a bombshell. The two of you can then decide together how you want to handle it. There's strength -– and safety –- in numbers.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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