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Dear Carol.

Dear Carol,

My grandma treats me like I'm 4. But I'm 14. She uses a baby voice around me, and it's really annoying. I'm afraid to say anything because she gets offended very easily. What's a good way to tell her?

Not A Little Kid Anymore

Dear Not a Little Kid Anymore,

Rather than criticizing or complaining, surprise her by being adult-like. Talk to her about a novel or poem or artist you like. Ask her about her childhood or how she met your grandfather or what she liked when she was a teen and whether she keeps in touch with any school friends. Talk about history or politics. Give her a computer lesson, or suggest that you two visit a museum together. If she doesn't change her ways, can you talk to a parent or aunt about the problem? Ask him or her to let your grandmother know how much you're growing up.

Dear Carol,

When I wear shorts, I get really self-conscious about my thighs. They're big and, near the end of the school year, I put my binders over them so no one can see. I don't like going to the pool either.

Self-Conscious

Dear Self-Conscious,

Eyes off your thighs. Really. Do your best not to become one of the millions of girls who obsess about weight and body type. It's such a brain drain. The goal is not to be thin--it's to be healthy and fit.

Dear Carol,

Our big end-of-the-school-year talent show is coming up. I signed up, but I might chicken out. What should I tell myself so I don't go onstage and puke?

Stagefright

Dear Stagefright,

I remember how sc-sc-sc-scared I was as a guest on The Today Show. But instead of thinking, "What if I mess up?" I kept telling myself, "How cool is this? I worked hard for this opportunity!" So that is my advice. Look at your moment in the spotlight as a wonderful, well-earned honor, not a reason to barf. Turn your natural nervousness into healthy excitement. It feels good to share your talents with people. Keep practicing, then get out there and shine. Imagine how great it will feel when you take your bow.

Dear Carol,

I've been going to this day camp for the past four summers. I love it and, until a week ago, I was sure I would go there again. But I'm becoming friends with this girl, and she's going to another camp. Her camp sounds like fun, and I'm open to change. I'm just not sure which to choose.

I Love Camp

Dear I Love Camp,

First, ask your parents if they've already paid for camp because, if so, they may not want you to change your mind. Even if you are free to pick the known vs. the new, it's a tricky decision. Since you love the camp you've been going to, you'd probably love it again. On the other hand, there's much to be said for trying new experiences. I wouldn't make the switch just to follow a girl you're getting to know. What if she becomes less friendly when she's around her familiar camp buds? Have a great summer, no matter what you decide!

Dear Carol,

My birthday is coming up, and I want to have friends over. Some of my friends are popular, and others are kind of geeky (not a bad thing). They don't like each other, but I don't want to invite one group and not the other. I also am worried about what the popular group will think if I invite the geeky group.

Totally Confused

Dear Totally Confused,

I think you should be brave and invite everybody but, if that doesn't feel right, can you have two parties? Throw a sleepover for one group; host a movie matinee for the other. Don't go crazy over this. It's your party, and your friends have to like you--not each other. Happy birthday!

Dear Carol,

My parents are divorced. I live with my mom, and my dad lives three hours away. I see him once a month during the school year, more in the summer. love my dad, but I never look forward to seeing him. He's not mean, so I don't know why I feel that way. My mom knows my feelings, but is this the way things will be for the rest of my life?

I Love My Dad

Dear I Love My Dad,

I'm glad you can be frank with your mom, and I'm sorry visits with your dad aren't everything you'd wish for. Next time you pack up to visit him, take some DVDs you both might like to watch together. What else might you both enjoy doing? Hiking in a nature preserve, walking around a state fair, going to a zoo, hitting the water park? Going out for Chinese food? Playing cards or Boggle or tennis? Pack books or sketch pads, too, so you can enjoy your alone time. And, no, it won't be this way for the rest of your life. When you're an adult, you can choose to visit him less or more, based or on your own terms.

Dear Carol,

I want another dog, but my morn says I don't take care of the two I already have. I really don't, but I said, "If you let me get this new dog, I promise to help out." She still won't let me because I always say that and never do it. This time, I'm telling the truth. I gave her some time to think about it, but she won't go for it. How can I get her to change her mind?

Mom Won't Say Yes

Dear Mom Won't Say Yes

How wonderful that you have two dogs and one sensible mom! Please, love and care for the dogs you already have rather than yearn for more. Understand that your mom's job is to raise you to be responsible and caring, not to grant your every request. Two dogs can be a lot of work--and a lot of fun.

Dear Carol,

I am desperate to be taller. At 5-foot-6, I have a "short complex." My parents, relatives and friends tell me I'm "tallish," but not tall. Why can't I grow another two inches? My BFF is taller, and she rubs it in my face. Can I get your opinion on whether I'll grow and some advice to boost my self-confidence?

Tall But Not Tall Enough

Dear Tall But Not Tall Enough,

I have no idea if you'll keep shooting up, but you might. There's no guarantee, although it's smart to eat nutritious foods and drink low-fat milk. You'll always be taller than some people and shorter than others, so why have a "short complex" when you're on the tall side? Consider seeing a counselor because it's a shame you feel "desperate" about height. Learn to like the way you look. Then think about how to be a more active, productive and happy person. Having interests helps you grow on the inside, where it counts.

Dear Carol,

Sometimes, my friends make fun of white people. They say they're dorky and always talk properly and that black people are cool and use slang. join along because they're older, and I want to be cool. I think they're rude and racist, but I don't want to tell them because they'll think I'm a geek.

Wannabe

Dear Wannabe,

Prejudice can go in many different directions, and it's lame to peg entire groups of people as uncool. You're right--those teens are rude. Chances are, you're not the only one in the group who is tempted to point that out. Next time, instead of joining along, stay quiet or bravely say, "I don't think all whites are dorky." If another girl agrees with you, seek out her friendship. You say you want to be "cool like them." But seeing our colorful, complicated world in just black and white is not all that cool.

Dear Carol,

I've been cutting myself and don't know why. I'm not unhappy. I have a loving family great friends and good grades, I know cutting is bad. I have hinted to my friends that I'm doing it but they've never noticed. I think want them to notice, but I'm not sure I want to tell them. I definitely don't want to tell my family.

Confused

Dear Confused,

Thank you for telling me about this very serious matter. I really hope you can learn to take good care of yourself rather than continue flirting with self-destructive habits. You wouldn't cut a friend, so please don't cut yourself. Promise you will not cut yourself today, then renew the promise tomorrow and the next day. When you feel anxious, call a friend, take a walk, write in a journal, chew gum, do jumping jacks, juggle--anything besides hurting yourself. You seem to want attention (this is normal), so seek positive ways to get it. Finally, just as you were courageous enough to write me, don't hesitate to reach out to a caring adult. You say you don't want to tell your family, but maybe you can talk to a neighbor, camp counselor or clergyperson. You really need to seek out professional therapy to find out why you're doing this and how to stop. Start by calling 1-800-DONT-CUT.

Carol Weston's four novels include Melanie in Manhattan (Knopf). Her advice books include Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You and For Girls Only (HarperCollins). Her website is carolweston.com. You can also write Dear Carol, c/o Girls' Life, 4517 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21214. For a reply, please be sure to include a stamped self-addressed envelope. Carol is sorry she can't answer every question personally--though she tries!
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Article Details
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Author:Weston, Carol
Publication:Girls' Life
Article Type:Column
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Words:1621
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