DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage son, "Jack," has his mind set on asking a girl he likes to his homecoming dance. He is planning an elaborate scavenger hunt that ends with him surrounded by balloons and a poster. Jack has been working on this with his friends, and I overheard them mention the possibility of her declining. Apparently a boy on the football team wants to ask this girl as well.
I don't want to let Jack know I was eavesdropping, but I know I would be crushed and embarrassed if I went through all of this work just to have a girl reject me for the quarterback. Should I tell him to set his sights on another girl or let this possible disaster run its course? -- First Cut Is the Deepest, Shreveport, Louisiana
DEAR FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST: You should not dash your son's hopes. What you should do is encourage him to make his invitation as soon as possible. Without giving away what you overheard, you can point out that as wonderful as his plan is, it would be awful if he were too late to get the girl.
Prepare yourself to comfort him should he be rejected, but don't give up hope. If this girl also likes him, she may be blown away by his thoughtfulness and pick him even though the jock is also interested. Timing is essential here. Jack stands the best chance of a sustained yes if he gets to her first!