DEAR READERS: I'm marking my 10-year anniversary of writing the "Ask Amy" column by rerunning some of my favorite Q-and-A's from the early days of the column. I return next week.
DEAR AMY: I am the father of a 19-year-old daughter. She is a great kid, smart, stays out of trouble and has lots of friends. The problem is that she likes to run around the house in her underwear.
I will come home from work and she will be sitting in front of the TV with just a T-shirt and underwear on or come out of the shower with only a towel on her head. She doesn't do this when we have houseguests. I have asked her to put more clothes on, but she just tells me not to be so stuffy. My wife thinks this is just a passing phase.
What do you think?
— Confused Father
DEAR FATHER: Your daughter's reaction to you tells me that she doesn't worry too much about respecting your point of view; I don't know how that strikes you, but that would probably bother me more than the nudity.
If she continues to refuse to respect this pretty simple request, the next time she spends an evening at home, you might want to come to dinner wearing only your boxer shorts. If she asks you what's going on, you can look at your daughter and say, "Stop being so stuffy! Please pass the potatoes." (2004)
DEAR AMY: I have six children and I am concerned about my 3-1/2-year-old.
I'm embarrassed to say he still uses a pacifier and is very attached to his "blankie." Blankie is nothing more than a filthy ball of string. The last time I washed it, some of it disintegrated in the dryer.
Every time my son finds a string from "blankie" on the floor he melts into tears, crying, "Blankie's dying."
To make matters worse, the director of his preschool was recently over for lunch. My son walked into the room with his pacifier and blankie in tow. I have never felt so ashamed in all my life. I don't even think I can face her again unless he has given up his habits.
— Under Pressure in D.C.
DEAR UNDER: My niece recently came to visit me from college, where she is an accomplished track star and "A" student. Imagine my surprise when she unpacked her "blankie," which I remember seeing her wrapped in as a baby.
After six children, one thing you've no doubt seen in your family is how different your kids are from one another. Your little guy might get treated like the treasured "baby of the family" at the same time he is being trampled by roving gangs of older siblings. He might be tough-as-nails, but can you imagine the tension he might be feeling as he resists growing up?
Any seasoned preschool director has seen children come into school with all sorts of different needs and anxieties. She and your son's teachers can help you wean him from these love objects by insisting that blankie and his pacifier stay at home, or in his cubby during school. You follow through at home by putting them in a place he can't get to so he has to ask you for them.
In terms of blankie-shredding, a friend of mine had a daughter whose blankie was literally down to strings. Finally, it was sealed in a sandwich bag, which the daughter kept in her locker at school. She starts college this year with the blankie in the bag. (2003)
DEAR AMY: I am a young, successful female who happens not to have a boyfriend. But I am plagued by relatives, friends and acquaintances who think this is outrageous and frequently ask why I'm not dating anyone.
Do you have any witty replies to this annoying question?
— Single And Fine With It
DEAR FINE: When I face the boyfriend queries, I usually just pat my coat pockets and say, "Oh, I know he's in here somewhere."
Sometimes I say that he's waiting in the car.
Readers, what do you say? (2004)
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.