DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of three -- ages 10, 9 and 6. My parents are both gone, so I can't ask them about a problem I am having with "Ashley," my 6-year-old. Since she learned to walk at about 10 months, Ashley has eaten just about anything she could get her hands on.
She prefers things like hairspray, makeup, cleaners, soaps, baby oil -- and has even tried bleach. I am scared that my child is going to do permanent damage to herself or even die. I watch her like a hawk; however, last night we were at a Daisy Girl Scout meeting, and Ashley went to the restroom and was caught spraying air freshener into her mouth.
I have called her pediatrician and left messages, but he has not returned my calls. I used to think she was just extremely curious; now I'm beginning to think she is obsessed and can't resist the urge.
Please advise me how I can save my beautiful little girl. -- ALARMED IN TOPEKA, KAN.
DEAR ALARMED: The first thing you should do is contact another pediatrician. Meanwhile, lock up the products that are a danger to her. Your daughter needs a medical evaluation, and you must ensure that she gets one as soon as possible. Her problem may be caused by some sort of nutritional deficiency, or she may have an emotional problem.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Milt," has a friend, "Jack," whom I find insufferable. He not only talks loudly and constantly, but he's an exaggerator and a know-it-all.
I respect Milt's choice to be friends with Jack, but when he comes to visit I quietly disappear into other parts of the house and avoid his company. Milt told him I am like this with all his friends. He said it to spare Jack's feelings. I do not run and hide from any of Milt's other friends.
My daughter says I'm being rude to Jack. Is she right? I swear, Abby, after five minutes of listening to him talk, I want to pull my hair out and run screaming from the room. Must I sit there and endure it for my husband's sake? Milt thinks it's funny, but my daughter thinks my behavior is wrong. Who's right? -- PEACE LOVER IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR PEACE LOVER: It appears that Jack doesn't want company; he craves an audience. Since your husband and daughter enjoy him, let them continue to do the entertaining. I see no reason why you should be hostage to a boor who dominates the conversation to the point that you're ready to scream. Continue to make your exit quiet and unobtrusive.
DEAR ABBY: I have a question about birthday etiquette. When there's leftover birthday cake from a party, isn't it true that the honoree should be allowed to take it home, or does the remainder belong to the person who paid for the cake? -- BIRTHDAY GIRL
DEAR BIRTHDAY GIRL: The leftover cake should go home with the birthday girl, if she wants it. However, if the generous person who paid for it would like some, the birthday girl should be willing to share it. Consider this: Your hostess may have wanted to be sure you didn't eat your cake and have it, too. (On your hips, I mean.)
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