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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a 12-year-old son who is academically gifted. He understands, speaks and reads on a much higher level than the sixth-grade program he is in. Unfortunately, the schools in our area are limited in their ability to deal with gifted students.

One teacher told me that the gifted program my son is currently in is not challenging him, while another teacher has suggested he bring down his level of speech, reading, etc., to the level of the other students in his class so that he can fit in more easily.

My concern is that my son will become bored with school and quit, or get so depressed about not fitting in that he may get himself into trouble.

What can I do to foster his intelligence, Abby? Emotionally he is a 12-year-old, but his intellectual capacity is so far advanced, it's becoming difficult to strike the right balance.

All this boy wants is to communicate with kids his own age who have the same abilities and interests that he has. Any suggestions would be appreciated. -- SOUTH CAROLINA MOM

DEAR MOM: Consider hiring a college student to tutor your son -- and perhaps mentor him. He needs contact with people on his intellectual level. He should feel comfortable with who he is -- and he is an academic high achiever who grasps concepts above his grade level. At the same time, encourage him to go out for team sports or join special-interest groups with kids his own age.

DEAR ABBY: My husband is in the military, requiring us to move every two to three years. We are blessed to have family and friends scattered all over the United States. After eight years of trying, we are finally expecting our first child.

Is it proper to send baby shower invitations to out-of-town family and friends even though I know they will be unable to attend? -- BURSTING WITH JOY IN SAN ANTONIO

DEAR BURSTING: No. A better way would be to write your family and friends and share your good news now. Send a birth announcement after the baby arrives.

DEAR ABBY: I hope you're not sick of "grandmother stories," because I've got a sweet one.

My grandmother, May, was the "Big Hershey Bar Grandma." She did not approve of smoking, and my father did not approve of giving candy to us kids.

After dinner at Grandma's house, Dad would go outside to smoke and she'd go into her kitchen. Then she would call out, "Come on, kids!" She'd reach into her freezer to break off pieces of a big Hershey bar and give us each a piece.

Now, 45 years later, my husband and I keep assorted bite-size chocolates in a drawer of our entertainment center just below the Disney videos. Our grandson knows the little Hershey's are his, and the bite-size Snickers are my husband's.

I can no longer eat chocolate, and my beloved grandma -- the only one I knew -- passed on in 1971. But whenever I'm in a store and see those large Hershey bars, I smile, remembering the ones in the small freezer of Grandma's old-fashioned fridge. -- DONNA IN PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR DONNA: Although you cannot eat chocolate now, the memory is delicious. Thanks for sharing it.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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