DEAR ABBY: I’m 8 years old and in second grade. I’m writing because I’m being bullied at school. I’m really smart, and at my school that’s a really bad thing. I try hard to be nice, but here that’s worse than being smart.
The teachers didn’t help me with the bullies, so I stopped telling them. My mom told everyone she could about the bullies, but nobody helps. It keeps getting worse over time. Every day someone picks on me, pushes me or makes fun of me. Please help me. — FEELING TORN IN TEXAS
DEAR FEELING TORN: Because you haven’t told your teachers that the bullying hasn’t stopped, they may think that it’s no longer going on. Tell them again what you are experiencing, and be sure your mother knows. She should discuss this with your teacher. If things don’t get better, she needs to talk to the principal and, if necessary, the school board. Many schools offer programs that discourage bullying and train students who can help.
As a last resort, your mother should consult a lawyer. You have a right to an education that’s free from this kind of pressure. Lawsuits have been filed and won because school districts didn’t give it the attention they should have. Be sure to show this to your mother and tell her you wrote the letter.
DEAR ABBY: I am agoraphobic. Although I have managed to make accommodations for special occasions like birthday parties and dinners with my family, I am not comfortable at extremely large gatherings.
My parents understand this, but my sister and brother-in-law think that if I’d just “try harder,” everything would work out. Abby, I must take a mild tranquilizer to go to small gatherings, and I have told them this. Would people tell someone who is allergic to something to just “try harder”? How can I explain this better? — AFRAID IN TAYLORSVILLE, UTAH
DEAR AFRAID: I’m sorry to say this, but individuals have been known to give people with severe food allergies items containing their “trigger foods” because they are convinced “just a little” won’t hurt them — or worse, that the problem is imaginary.
Your sister and brother-in-law do not understand phobias. A medical professional might be able to explain it to them, but until they’re ready to consult one and really listen, it would be healthier for you to ignore them and limit your time with them.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I disagree about when and where it is acceptable to yawn. I believe a public yawn during dinner or conversation is not appropriate. She sees no reason why such a natural human trait such should be stifled.
Again, my assertion is that yawning denotes boredom or lack of interest in what people are conversing about or doing. What are your thoughts? — NOT A YAWNER IN FLAGSTAFF
DEAR NOT A YAWNER: My thoughts are similar to an observation made by English writer G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), who said, “A yawn is a silent shout.” I have never seen anyone who is intensely interested in something yawn, and to do it in the presence of others implies that the yawner is tired, bored or otherwise not fully engaged.