DEAR ABBY: I have a 3-year-old daughter who has been going to a home day-care provider since she was an infant. The sitter is wonderful and I like the way she cares for my daughter. She doesn't speak English very well, but we have been able to communicate through her 12-year-old daughter, "Laurie."
The issue that I'm having is with her daughter. Laurie plays with the children a lot when she gets out of school in the afternoons. Lately, my daughter has been telling me that they play school and that Laurie is the "teacher." My daughter comes home devastated every day because Laurie tells her that she is getting failing grades and pretends to send her to the principal's office.
According to my daughter, none of the other kids have to do this. She also says that she has to eat her lunch alone for talking. I don't think the sitter realizes that this is going on. I have tried to talk to Laurie about it, but she denies doing it.
I'm afraid this will have a lasting effect on my child when she starts school. I don't want to change sitters, but I don't want to subject my daughter to this kind of behavior either. I need some help here. What should I do? -- MELODY IN HOUSTON
DEAR MELODY: The first thing you should do is find someone who speaks your day-care provider's language to help you to explain to the woman what her daughter has been doing. Your concerns are well-founded. It's possible that Laurie is mirroring what is going on with HER at school, and her mother should be made aware of it.
Second, please remove your daughter from this home day-care situation and find a licensed and accredited day-care center for her. There are things she should be learning to prepare her for school that she isn't being taught. A proper preschool education can give your child an important head start. As a responsible parent, it's up to you to see that she gets it.
DEAR ABBY: On New Year's Day, my stepdaughter and her husband dropped in unexpectedly. They live two miles away, and we see them frequently. After a very hectic Christmas, I had been looking forward to a quiet, relaxing day with my husband. I had not even showered when they arrived.
Even though I was uncomfortable not having showered, and in my pajamas, I made our surprise guests welcome. I offered breakfast and coffee and spent hours with them. After 1 p.m., I finally decided to shower and dress. I made a fresh pot of coffee and offered our guests more to eat. I took between 45 minutes and an hour to shower and dress. When I emerged, I offered more coffee and food. They finally left hours later.
A week later, my husband and I had a huge argument concerning how "rude" I was for having disappeared for almost an hour to shower and change. Abby, I did everything possible to make our uninvited guests feel welcome. Was I rude to abandon our guests for this selfish reason? Your input is much appreciated. -- CHERYL IN ILLINOIS
DEAR CHERYL: You were not rude to go and get cleaned up. The people who were rude were the "drop-ins" who didn't bother to call and arrange a convenient time before coming over. As to your husband's "snit," I think he was angry because he was left alone to entertain them for an hour. Too bad, so sad!
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600