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Teacher is asked age-old question

Q: I'm a busy, 72-year-old substitute teacher in the elementary grades, and I do my best to make a difference with the limited time I have to spend with each of the many groups of students I teach.

I realize that I look older than other teachers and, every once in a while, a student will ask me my age. It may be an inappropriate question, but these are youngsters who may not have learned about such sensitivities. Ignoring the question doesn't make it go away and undoubtedly would puzzle the student who asked it.

Is honesty the best policy in such cases? I'm open to suggestions as to how to best handle this situation in the future.

- An Arizona Senior

A: There are certain questions that are considered rude to ask. A person's age is one of them. If these students have not been taught that lesson at home, then it falls to you as a teacher to enlighten them.

Your answer should be, "My dear, that question is inappropriate and should not be asked of someone who is an adult." Say it gently with a smile so it does not seem like a rebuke.

Bride should let it go

Q: A close friend of mine, "Trish," is being married next March in Hawaii. The groom's brother, "Tom," and his fiancee announced this week that they plan to have their honeymoon at the same time as the wedding in Hawaii. This has upset Trish and her future husband, whose wedding plans had long been in place. Should Trish be upset about this? And if so, does she have a right to voice her opinion to the honeymooners? Other family will be at the wedding. Will this steal Trish's wedding limelight?

- Maid of Honor

A: In no way will Tom and his bride steal the spotlight from Trish by having their honeymoon at the time of Trish's wedding. There may have been budgetary considerations that led to their decision. It's possible they could not afford to have a honeymoon and attend the wedding, too - so they combined the two happy occasions.

Your friend may be suffering from prewedding jitters, which can cloud judgment. Under no circumstances should she say anything negative to her new in-laws or the rest of the family. If she is gracious, she'll have no regrets - or rifts - in the family later.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips. Find columns at

Universal Press Syndicate