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DEAR ABBY: My 3-year-old son has been attending a day-care center that is run by my best friend, "Annika." While Annika was out of town attending a funeral, one of her staff members kicked my son in the head because he was "in her way." When I questioned the teacher, she smirked about it and didn't deny it.

I wanted the matter addressed immediately. I called our state licensing division to have the matter investigated. The following week, when Annika returned, she advised me that child care for my son would be terminated in two days. The teacher received a simple write-up.

Annika said I didn't give her the chance to correct the problem with the teacher before calling the state. I am livid that she took it personally when I tried to protect my child. I didn't do it to get her in trouble.

Annika was to be my maid of honor next September, and the thought of it makes me ill. I have no desire to see my former best friend, and she lives across the street from me. This all happened last week. Should I give it time, or stand my ground? Am I overreacting about this or should I reconcile? My decision will be based on your reply. -- OVERWHELMED IN TEXAS

DEAR OVERWHELMED: Your call to the state licensing board was premature. Although I understand your outrage as a protective parent, everyone might have been better served had you withdrawn your child from the day-care center until Annika returned, and not jumped the gun. Frankly, you are lucky to have your son out of there. The teacher, who appears poorly suited for her job, should have been dismissed instead of reprimanded.

Only you can decide whether or not to reconcile with your best friend. Because Annika lives across the street, I see no point in trying to avoid her. However, you both might be happier if you asked someone else to be your maid of honor.

DEAR ABBY: Seven years ago, I became close friends with "Anthony" and his wife, "Erika." Erika died unexpectedly, leaving behind her husband and two children, "Heidi" and "Dustin." Heidi and I became very close, and she began looking up to me as a mother figure.

Seven months ago, Heidi found out she was pregnant. She is still in school. The baby's father left her. She asked me to be with her when the baby is born.

A few months ago, Anthony started seeing someone. His girlfriend is very jealous of my friendship with him and the fact that his daughter looks up to me. Heidi and the girlfriend don't really get along. Heidi asked me again if I would go with her when she goes into labor and I told her yes.

Should I honor Heidi's wishes and be there with her, or should I stay away until after the baby is born? I don't want to hurt anyone. -- FRIEND IN OHIO

DEAR FRIEND: Of course you should honor Heidi's wishes and be there for her. She is probably nervous and frightened about the delivery, and you would be a comfort to her. If the girlfriend doesn't like it, that will be her problem. Please don't make it yours.

DEAR ABBY: If I go to a buffet restaurant, how much of a tip should I leave at the table? I want to do it right. My friends have told me that because this is a kind of "self-serve" restaurant, we can leave whatever amount we like. I am ... CONFUSED IN WESTMINSTER, CALIF.

DEAR CONFUSED: If you want to "do it right," leave 10 percent.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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