DEAR ABBY: I am an 11-year-old girl with a confusing problem. There's this neighborhood boy named "Brian" who is my age. He really gets on my nerves. Practically every day after school, Brian asks if he can play with me or my sister. We always say no, because he's a loudmouth at school and causes problems.
One day my sister and I were walking home from school, and Brian asked for a piece of paper. He had the nerve to write me a love note! It was obvious from the note that he has a crush on me. He said he couldn't tell me to my face because I'm always rude to him.
What I don't understand is how he can have a crush on me when he acts like such a jerk at school.
Please help me, Abby. I can't take it any longer. Could you give me a solution for Brian's annoying behavior? -- OVERHEATED GIRL IN SPRINGFIELD, ORE.
DEAR OVERHEATED GIRL: Brian's acting like a jerk because he's trying to get you to notice him. He's young and doesn't know any other way to accomplish it.
If I were you, I'd try to be a little more tolerant and accept the fact that he likes you as a compliment. Look at it this way: When someone admires somebody else, it's not intended as an insult. And besides, he might become more attractive as he ages -- so don't burn your bridges.
DEAR ABBY: My mother was born and raised in a European country. At 20, she met a young American soldier who was on his way to Vietnam. They had a brief affair, and I was the result.
When I was 6, my mother married my stepfather and we came to the United States. My stepfather tried, but he could not fill the void in my life. My mother refused to answer any questions about my real father or his family. She always told me he was killed in the war.
Last year, I hired a private investigator and found my father alive and well. He was shocked, but happy to hear from me. He did not even know my mother had borne his child. DNA tests confirm I am his daughter. I plan to meet his family and introduce him to mine.
My mother and I are now barely civil toward each other. I cannot understand why she deprived my father and me of knowing each other. She offers no explanation. All the years we missed breaks my heart. How can I forgive her? -- ANONYMOUS IN NEW YORK
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Start by understanding that your mother was and is very angry at your father. She may also have been ashamed about the circumstances of your conception. Although it was wrong of her to lie, until you understand her reasons for doing so, do not judge her.
DEAR ABBY: I have a problem with swimming. I don't know how. All I know is enough to save my life if I have to.
My mom wants me to take swimming next year in high school, but the thought of it embarrasses me. What should I do, Abby? I don't want my high school career to be over before it begins. -- NOT A SWIMMER IN THE NORTHWEST
DEAR NOT A SWIMMER: If you are embarrassed because you think you should know how to swim by now, I have a solution. Sign up for lessons at the local YMCA or take private lessons before school starts in the fall. That way, you'll be prepared to join the class, and you won't be embarrassed.
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