Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My 14-year-old daughter, "Katie," has an acquaintance, "Tori," whom she has known since kindergarten. In the past, they really haven't been that close and talked only occasionally. In fifth grade, Tori moved to another school. Recently, we found out that Tori would be returning to the school that my daughter attends for eighth grade. Since that time, Tori has been calling incessantly and driving Katie crazy. She will continue to call even when I tell her that Katie is not home. It's to the point that we have to unplug our phone to make it stop.

My fear is that once Katie and Tori are at the same school, this behavior will carry over and my daughter will say or do something out of frustration to hurt Tori's feelings. Tori doesn't have a lot of friends and is socially backward. I believe she is doing this to make sure she will have at least one friend when she starts school, but she is pushing Katie away. I have always taught Katie to be kind and thoughtful of others, but I can understand why Tori is making her crazy. What should we do in this situation? -- Confused and Annoyed, Kalamazoo, Mich.

DEAR CONFUSED AND ANNOYED: It is time for you to reach out to Tori's mother. Tell her what has been happening, and express your concerns about the incessant calls. Make it clear to Tori's mother that your daughter has no interest in hurting her daughter's feelings, but that Tori's approach is suffocating.

Your daughter can also speak up for herself. She can tell Tori that she is happy that she is returning to the school and that she looks forward to seeing her, but that she needs Tori to back off a bit. You may want to host Tori and her mother at your home one afternoon over the summer so that you can all be together and, if necessary, you can neutralize the situation by telling the girls that you hope that they will have a good year and that each needs her own space.

Finally, when school starts, pay close attention. If your daughter ends up needing the support of her teacher or guidance counselor, help her step up and get it. Further, if the school has more than one class per grade, you may want to speak to the principal to find out if the two girls can be in different classes.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Regarding "Penniless" the young man who quit his job and can't find another, the armed forces are always hiring. -- Looking for Options, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

DEAR LOOKING FOR OPTIONS: It is absolutely true that the armed forces are looking for capable people to fill their ranks. This is a good idea. You can also get a great education through the military. However, not everyone is automatically accepted. Do your research and find out what the qualifications are for the different arms of the military, and, if you are interested, apply. To learn more, Google "how to join the military."