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Asking son’s playmate to go home is no fun

Dear Abby: My son "Timmy" has a playmate from down the street I'll call "Bobby." I'm happy that Timmy has someone to play with, but Bobby's parents haven't taught him good manners. Even though Bobby is only 6, he does not have a curfew. He has stayed at our house as late as 10:30 at night without his parents coming after him or calling to ask me to send him home.

Also, Abby, I did not invite Bobby to my 4-year-old daughter's birthday party because it was for her and her little friends. Well, Bobby, his older sister and a friend of hers showed up anyway! I didn't have enough favors for the extra children. I was able to stretch the food, but I was aggravated that his parents didn't have enough respect for me to stop their children from crashing my daughter's birthday.

I was brought up to leave my friends' homes when it was dinnertime, but these children don't want to go home even when I ask them to leave so we can have our dinner. They beg to stay and eat with us.

How can parents be so inconsiderate as to allow their children to come over anytime and stay as long as they like? I want it to stop, but I don't want to cause hard feelings. How do I handle this? – Imposed Upon in Oklahoma

Dear Imposed Upon: There is usually a good reason why children don't want to go home. Has it occurred to you that Bobby's parent(s) may be drunk, stoned or absent? If a parent is reachable, explain to him or her that at your house you have a regular dinner hour and that it is family time. Guests must go home then, unless they have been specifically invited to stay. Also, after-dinner playtime is over at 8:30 p.m. and guests must go home by then – but not walk alone after dark.

It may turn out that your son's playmate is a latchkey kid or being neglected. If the latter is true, then Child Protective Services should be notified.

Dear Abby: I am a woman who is more than 50 pounds overweight. It didn't happen overnight, and I completely understand that I am the only person to blame for it. I gained the weight because of years of unhealthy eating, lack of exercise and the birth of my two daughters over a period of 6 years.

Recently I decided to do something about it. I took the initiative, adopted a sensible diet and have started walking 2 to 3 miles a day with my friend, "Shannon."

Abby, on almost every occasion, Shannon and I are made fun of as we walk. It's embarrassing and extremely discouraging. We realize we are overweight. We don't need people calling attention to us or making fun of the "fat girls."

Won't you please let your readers know that struggling with weight loss is hard enough without adding the fear and anxiety of being made a laughingstock while exercising? – Losing Slowly in Ohio

Dear Losing Slowly: I applaud you for recognizing you had a challenge and rising (literally) to meet it. When I see someone who's carrying extra weight walking or working out at a gym, what comes to mind is, "There's a person who is doing something positive about his or her problem."

Because a jackass brays doesn't mean you have to take it to heart. The individuals making those unkind remarks are trying to make themselves feel superior by putting you down. Please don't let it discourage you. You're on the right track.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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