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by Abigail Van Buren

Life of Toil and Thrift Is Teen's Tough Row to Hoe

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 15-year-old girl who has never been in trouble, but my mom treats me like I'm a criminal. She makes me go to church every Sunday. She makes me go to Catholic school, and I have to wear an ugly uniform. She won't help with my homework. She says, "I already did 10th grade." I can't wear halter tops, short shorts, a bikini or much makeup. If I tell her it's the style, she says, "Modesty is always in style."

When I go out with my friends, she wants to know where I'm going, who I'll be with, what we'll be doing, when we'll be back and their phone numbers. If I have a date with a new boy, she makes him come into the house and tell her what school he goes to. Then she makes him show her his driver's license and car registration.

I can't keep my computer in my room. When I'm using it in the den, she looks over my shoulder and won't let me go to chat rooms. I have to set the table even if we don't have company and sit down and have dinner with her every night.

If I can't afford something, she tells me to save up or budget better. She won't let me drive until I can pay for my own insurance. It's not like my mom's poor. We go to Hawaii and Lake Tahoe, and we've been to Europe and on cruises. But she won't even pay for cable TV. She says it's an idiot box and I should read a book instead.

She also makes me do my own laundry and keep my room and bathroom clean. She makes me do unfair chores like clean the guest bathroom even though I never ever use it. She wants to teach me to sew and cook, but I have no interest in those things.

She makes me visit Dad every week, and if I complain about anything, she says (very calmly and quietly, which I hate more than if she'd yell), "You can always choose to live with your dad."

She told me as long as I live under her roof, I have to abide by her rules even if I'm over 18. And I have to go to college, and if I don't, I'll have to get a job and support myself.

I could go on and on. Have you ever heard of a mother so unreasonable? I'm afraid to run away, but I don't know how much more of this I can take. -- EMOTIONALLY ABUSED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR EMOTIONALLY ABUSED: Wow! Your letter should be posted on every refrigerator in the country. Rarely do I hear about a parent who tries as hard as your mother does to do a diligent job. One day you will look back and thank her.

PS. And if by chance this letter was written by your mother -- congratulations for a job well-done. I would like to nominate you for Mother of the Year.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to know who gives singers the right to change the melody of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful"? Some of them who are featured on national TV don't even get the lyrics right. Many of us would love to hear our national anthem without the additional flourishes. Isn't anything sacred anymore? These so-called singers can add their individual squealing to their own songs, but I wish they would leave Francis Scott Key's version in its original format. Am I alone on this issue? -- NOT TONE-DEAF IN WASHINGTON STATE

DEAR NOT TONE-DEAF: You're far from alone in feeling as you do. Our national anthem is notoriously difficult to sing, and the lyrics difficult to remember. However, performers are, to a greater or lesser extent, artists. And some artists can't resist the temptation to add their personal interpretation to the classic, which has proved embarrassing for the singer and the listeners. It proves the truth of the old saying, "Sometimes less is more."

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