DEAR ABBY: I'm a 13-year-old girl -- a straight-A student in the eighth grade. Most of my teachers like me, but I am overscheduled.
I do swimming five times a week. To prepare for the Advanced Placement test, I have German lessons every Wednesday. I have orchestra rehearsal every Saturday morning and sailing class every Sunday. I also take private violin lessons that I must practice for.
I love swimming, but if I go less often, I will be kicked off the team. The German class is something my mom insists on, and I don't mind it too much. I like being musical, and my violin teacher insists I play in the orchestra. Sailing is my passion. I am nationally ranked, and it keeps me going.
I manage this schedule, but some time for myself would be much appreciated. Any ideas, Abby? -- STRESSED IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
DEAR STRESSED: It appears you excel at everything, and frankly, just reading your schedule makes me tired. While all of your activities will look good on a college application, you do appear to be overscheduled. A talk with a school counselor might help you better prioritize your interests -- and that's what I recommend you do before you burn out.
DEAR ABBY: I am living with a great guy. "Phil" is a sweetheart. He has two nice kids, a good job and we are talking about marriage. We travel, have fun and I have never been happier.
Here's my problem: My son, "Danny," a college senior, will most likely need to move back home in May. I love him, but I must admit he is self-centered, depressing and uncooperative. I suppose much of it is his father's and my fault.
Phil does not want Danny to move in after graduation. He feels the decision is not about choosing between him and my son, but about choosing between my son and me.
I can envision a wonderful future with Phil, but I can't imagine telling my son that he is on his own. My heart tells me I'm a mother first and must provide for my son no matter what. In the back of my mind I suspect that if I don't, I'll regret it forever. I see no middle ground. Can you? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: The first thing that comes to mind is that Danny should move in with his father. If that is not feasible, then you, Phil and Danny must sit down together and talk like adults.
You stated that you live with Phil -- not the other way around. If it is Phil's house, he is under no obligation to have your son as a long-term houseguest. If he does agree, he has a right to know that Danny will be there under certain conditions, for a limited period of time and have it in writing.
Among today's realities is the fact that the job market is difficult, and not all college graduates are able to find jobs in their chosen fields. A certain amount of compromise will be necessary on all your parts.
DEAR ABBY: I run a "coupon swap" in my office. Subsequently, at the end of each week, I am left with numerous unwanted coupons. Can you give me any ideas on how to put these "leftovers" to good use? -- THRIFTY SHOPPER IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR THRIFTY SHOPPER: Gladly. Donate them to a church, shelter, food bank or a nursing home. I'm sure they would be appreciated.
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.)