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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl in the eighth grade. For my Health and Human Services class, I had to do an oral report about my future career.

I have wanted to be president of the United States since fifth grade. But when I said that, my teacher laughed at me. He told me I had very little chance of making it, although he didn't say why.

Then, "Jim," another student, started laughing hysterically and said girls aren't allowed to be president. I said, "Yeah, and I'll bet the idiots who came up with that idea were guys!" I was so upset I ran out of the room.

Now, a group of kids at school have started calling me names and spreading rumors about me. Jim even tripped me and made me bite my lip. I try to ignore them, but it's hard. They keep laughing at me, and my teacher is no help. I am losing sleep and feel horrible.

Abby, I didn't realize so much trouble could come out of revealing a dream. It's not like I am not ambitious enough. I'm in the National Junior Honor Society and my poetry has been published in the paper more than once.

I have tried talking to the guidance counselors, but they have done nothing. And when I mention my career ambition to my family, all I get from them is, "That's nice, dear."

Please respond, Abby. My dream is turning into a nightmare. -- I HAVE A DREAM

DEAR I HAVE A DREAM: Please clip this and show it to your male chauvinist teacher. Because a woman has never been president of the United States does not mean that it will never happen. Fifty years ago there was a saying, "A woman's place is in the home." Today, more women work outside the home than in it. And this year, for the first time, there were more female applicants to medical schools than male.

Please don't let your classmates get you down. If necessary, ask your parents to get involved to stop the harassment. The people who imply that you cannot fulfill your dreams are wrong. I expect to see a woman be elected president in my lifetime -- and who's to say it won't be you? Certainly not this columnist!

DEAR ABBY: I have been going out with my boyfriend for two years. He has two boys, 7 and 9. He has been divorced from his wife for six years. We do not live together, but we would like to share the same bed when I stay overnight.

My boyfriend's 9-year-old son won't allow it. He either tries to get into the bed with my boyfriend or makes comments that he doesn't want us to sleep together. This is trying my patience.

I have tried to be understanding. Am I wrong to be frustrated with the situation? My boyfriend wants to sleep with me, too, but doesn't talk to his son about it; he just gives in. -- BUMMED IN BEVERLY, MASS.

DEAR BUMMED: Call me old-fashioned, but if you're looking for sympathy from me, you've come to the wrong place. What adults do in private is their own business. But I don't think unmarried adults should sleep together in front of children. It sends the wrong message. Children want to keep their illusions, and I think adults should let them.

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