Dear Annie: I am a 16-year-old girl. When I was about 7, I began experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations. I never told anyone, but now they’re getting worse. I have them a few times a week and can’t concentrate in school.
I am depressed and have trouble sleeping. I sometimes get irritated around other people. For complex reasons, my parents absolutely cannot know. Should I talk to someone, and if so, who? — Hurting in Montreal
Dear Hurting: Hallucinations are often a sign of serious neurological problems, which means you need to see a doctor immediately. Your parents should know, but if you don’t think you can tell them, please talk to your school counselor or nurse, a close relative, the parents of your best friend, a favorite teacher or a trusted neighbor. You also can call your doctor and explain what’s going on. The doctor may be willing to see you even without your parents’ knowledge, but we don’t think you should hide this from them. Your health is more important than anything else going on in their lives. Please don’t wait.
Dear Annie: This may seem trivial, but when sitting in theater chairs or at the movies, where is the proper place to rest your elbow? I appreciate any light you can shed on this because everyone I know seems to have a different opinion. — Oregon
Dear Oregon: The only rule is, you don’t get both armrests unless the seats on either side are vacant. Of course, that doesn’t mean elbow-fighting during intermission. If the people next to you are armrest hogs, place your hands in your lap and make the best of it.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Mother of a Mellow Teen,” who feels her son, already on the swim, tennis, math and robotics teams, should get a job.
My son was also on the swim team, which involved two daily practices, one at 6 a.m. and another after school, totaling four grueling hours a day. He also worked 15 hours a week as a lifeguard. He was exhausted all the time. When my daughter asked to take a break from her 20-hour-a-week job during her volleyball season, I was all for it.
Perhaps this mother has no clue how physically demanding team sports can be. — Been There, Done That
Dear Been There: Several readers weighed in on this. Read on:
From Florida: I am the mother of five children and am appalled at your statement, “We’re not sure how much of a job you expect him to get.” This is the problem with youth today. They are too busy with school activities to understand life is hard. This is why they don’t leave home until they’re 30. Too many parents don’t give their kids the dignity and tools to be self-sufficient adults. Let them get off their duffs and live in the real world.
Colorado: I am a music teacher and counsel parents to seek a proper balance in their teen’s life. Full-time school is at least six hours a day; homework, a minimum of two hours a night. Add swim team and tennis (two practices a week, each), plus math and robotics (once a week for two hours each). So now we are close to a 70-hour workweek for a 15-year-old child. And mom wants to add a job to the mix.
Parents have lost sight of letting kids be kids. I will never forget the A-student, multiple-team-member kid who was pushed to get a job. His parents found him dead, hanging from a rope in the basement.
California: My father told me I’d be working forever once I graduated, so he insisted I not work until the second half of my senior year. I’ve followed his wisdom with my own kids. It’s paid off with scholarships as they had the time to focus on their grades and do volunteer activities. This would not have been possible with part-time jobs. Please tell that mom to relax and enjoy her great son.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.
Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.1.08