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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: On Father's Day many stepdads are often underappreciated or excluded, so I wrote this poem to honor these unsung heroes. I hope you'll put it in your column, so my husband -- and other stepdads everywhere -- will know it was written for them. -- LESLEY STITT, ONTARIO, CANADA

DEAR LESLEY: In these times when blended families are common, your tribute is clever, appropriate, and certainly worth space in my column. Read on:


Hey, it's really not "your day."

I just don't know what else to say

Because, you see, you're just a "step,"

You're not her dad -- you're just a "rep,"

-- A stand-in really, rest assured

You're only there to be endured.

Oh! Unless she needs a ride,

Or someone there to take her side,

And please have money you can lend;

'Cause that's when you will have a friend.

She's NOT your daughter, though, be clear;

You're not her dad, just someone here.

There's really lots for you to do;

And you get all the "good jobs," too;

You get to worry when she's late,

Pick her up from her late date,

Comfort her when she's in tears,

And try to calm her teenage fears.

And you will get to love her, too,

Even though she won't love you.

You'll get to care for her each day,

And see my daughter doesn't stray

From rules that you will get to make --

She won't admit they're for her sake!

She thinks stepdads just aren't "fun,"

You're just as boring as her mom.

You're only there (you must concede)

To see that she's got all she needs!

Father's Day? Nah, she won't bother

Thanking you -- you're not her father!

So let me do it in her stead,

As I have done since we were wed.

Thanks for all the things you do,

And all you are -- I love you, too.

Happy Father's Day.

DEAR ABBY: Our mah-jong group has three older women. Our fourth member died recently. We have three substitutes, one of whom wants to become the permanent fourth member. But she's rude and demeaning to one of the other substitutes, of whom she's apparently jealous. How do we tell "Troublemaker" we no longer want her to play, even as a sub? -- SEEKING HARMONY IN SCOTTSDALE

DEAR SEEKING HARMONY: It shouldn't be too difficult. Ask one of the other substitutes to become the permanent member, and I predict the insecure "Troublemaker" will "punish" you by becoming unavailable.

TO FATHERS EVERYWHERE -- BIRTH FATHERS, STEPFATHERS, FOSTER FATHERS, TOO: Happy Father's Day to all of you! In addition, I extend good wishes to those caring men who donate their time mentoring youngsters whose parents are absent or deceased. The most precious gift a person can give is a gift of self, and the difference you make is immeasurable.

P.S. To Morton B. in Minneapolis: Happy Father's Day, Pop!

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 only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600