Dear Annie: I am a 14-year-old girl. Lately, I’ve been feeling somewhat lost as to what I want to do with my life. I mean, I live a mundane existence, while my friends e-mail me telling me they’ve gotten their nose pierced, or are going to Las Vegas, or switching boyfriends every few days — the exciting life, if you will. This is not me. I appreciate more of a quiet lifestyle. But I wonder if maybe I’m not making enough effort to be social. It’s hard, though, since both my parents work, I can’t drive yet, and I’m often tethered to the house because I’m obligated to baby-sit my autistic brother.
I feel like I’m not making any progress growing up, while everyone else is leaving me in the dust. I’m torn between my evolving best friends, my family, my lifestyle and the pressure to be cool, and being at an awkward stage of development does not exactly make things easier. Please give me some advice to cope with being a teenager. — Dazed and Confused in Nevada
Dear Dazed: You don’t sound lost. You sound very mature. We understand the appeal of doing wild and crazy things, but if piercing your nose and running off to Las Vegas isn’t your cup of tea, you shouldn’t force yourself. There will always be opportunities to behave foolishly, if that’s what you want. Excitement isn’t always about doing outrageous things. Socialize with your friends in less extreme ways and concentrate on your academics. Mundane, maybe, but worthwhile, definitely. You won’t be sorry.
Dear Annie: I recently lost my mother to lung cancer. She lived in Florida and I’m in New York, but I visited as much as possible before she died. Each time, she asked me to take care of her and talk to her doctors. This made her husband angry and jealous.
During her last few weeks, when she was unable to speak for herself, my stepfather seized the opportunity to keep me from talking to Mom’s doctors. He also limited my visits and made me feel like a stranger in my mother’s house. My two children, who called this man “Grandpa,” were ignored. He did not allow me access to my mother’s address book so I could contact relatives and friends.
Since Mom died, my stepfather has not spoken to me. I wrote him a brief letter politely asking for a few items from the house that would be precious to me but are of no monetary value. He hasn’t responded.
Mom made out a will 10 years ago (after her marriage), naming my sister as executor. Unfortunately, when Mom moved to Florida, she thought the will was no longer valid and tossed it. We have been unable to locate the original. I don’t sleep well and am having a hard time functioning. I miss my mother so much. How do I go on? — Very Sad
Dear Sad: Do you know the name of the lawyer who handled the original will in New York? The law firm should have a copy, although it may have been superseded by a more recent will. Meanwhile, try not to see your stepfather as the enemy. He, too, is grieving. You might have better luck calling or sending him a note of condolence, asking for nothing, saying your children miss their grandpa. And please consider grief counseling. We’ll be thinking of you.
Dear Annie: My husband and I were briefly divorced. During that time, I had a child with another man. Later, my husband and I remarried, but my younger son has a different last name from his brother and parents. How should I sign our Christmas cards? — Just Asking
Dear Just: You can sign them, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Family” or, less formally, “Mary and John Smith, Chad and Jeremy.” You don’t have to advertise that one of your children has a different last name.
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 on 10.19.07