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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm having a problem with a boy at school. Somehow he got my home phone number and started calling me. I don't mean he called once or twice; he called once or twice EVERY HOUR for weeks. It got so bad I'd make excuses to get off the phone or have my parents tell him I was out. That didn't stop him. He'd call back every hour or so until midnight or 1 a.m. -- when my folks would take the phone off the hook.

Finally, we paid money to get call blocking and blocked his house number. Then he bought a cell phone and started doing the same thing. We blocked that number, so now he goes over to friends' houses and calls.

I'd have no problem telling him to stop, but he has a very big mouth and every time someone disagrees with him, he calls them a racist. I feel helpless for fear he'll spread rumors about me. -- TRAPPED IN LOUISVILLE

DEAR TRAPPED: Speak up and tell him to stop calling already! If he persists, your parents should first notify his parents, and if that doesn't work, then notify the phone company and the police. What he is doing is called stalking. Your parents should be prepared to get a court order if necessary, because the boy appears to have an unhealthy fixation.

Please do not worry about his accusing you of being a racist. People who know you will know it's not true.

DEAR ABBY: I have two sisters-in-law. I'm the one who was chosen to write to you. Our mother-in-law, "Lydia," has always treated us like we are women who just happen to live with her sons. She drops over whenever she feels like it, "borrows" whatever suits her pleasure, even if the items belong to us, and refers to the grandchildren as her sons' children.

I have tried explaining to her that we both work, and it takes two incomes to accumulate what we have, and her comments are hurtful. However, knowing she has hit a nerve whenever she drops by uninvited, she makes a point of commenting to me that I'm driving her son's car, using his vacuum cleaner, or on how I'm raising his kids. It's infuriating.

Our husbands make excuses that she's old and doesn't know any better, or say, "That's just Mom." I know you're going to say they have no backbone. So how should we wives handle it? Do we just leave when she shows up? After 20 years of enduring this, we've decided we've earned the right to be just as rude as she is. -- HAD IT IN MISSOURI

DEAR HAD IT: The first thing the three of you should do is find a marriage counselor who gives group discounts, and visit the therapist together with your husbands. Ideally, the ones to get Lydia to shape up are her sons. If that proves to be too much for "the boys" to handle, then it's up to you to create some boundaries. Do not be rude -- be firm. When she "drops by," greet her with a smile and say, "This isn't a good time to visit. Your son isn't here and I'm busy." Then shut the door and go about your business.

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