Dear Annie: My 17-year-old son, "Mason," has been in and out of trouble for the last two years. He's gotten into two fights (one which he started) and flunked three classes. Last year, he got a girl pregnant, and the child was put up for adoption. I also found out that he hit a girl during an argument. He's wrecked his car twice. He lies all the time. I recently found naked pictures of him on the home computer.
Mason is not a terrible teen. He has a job, and he paid for his car and uses his own money for extras. He is a senior now and is planning to enlist in the military after high school. I think the military will be good for him.
I hate to admit it, but I can't wait until he leaves. It's over a year before the start of boot camp, and I don't know if I can take it. Although things are fine for a while, I always know the other shoe is going to drop. Living like this is really stressful. What should I do with him? Waiting To Be an Empty-Nester
Dear Waiting: You should get him into counseling. Mason may be financially responsible, but he is an emotional train wreck. The military will teach him discipline, but if there are underlying personality problems, boot camp may simply present a new set of difficulties. Your doctor should be able to recommend someone, or you can discuss this with Mason's school counselor.
Dear Annie: I've just come home from a wonderful outdoor Paul Simon concert. The problem? My friend and I had to listen to chatter throughout the concert, particularly during the quieter, more thoughtful songs.
After shooting some looks at nearby talkers, I leaned over to the ones nearest me and said, "Please stop talking." At first they apologized and stopped, but soon they started right back up. Finally, I said to the most vocal young woman, "Please!" She said, "Please, what?" I said, "Please be quiet. It's a concert." She said, "Yeah, and I'm having a great time!" and proceeded to ridicule me to her friend.
I tried to ignore them, but it was hard because they were so loud. We were in the middle of a row, and getting an usher would have been very disruptive. Maybe they thought that since it was an outdoor concert, talking was fine. I think talented musicians deserve the respect of a listening audience, and others in the audience paid (a lot!) to hear the music, not to hear about how much someone's leg waxing hurts. Still Crazy After All These Years
Dear Still Crazy: You'd think you could find The Sound of Silence at a Paul Simon concert. Of course one should be listening, not talking, at concerts, but people are often self-centered and don't notice or care that they are disturbing others. This is especially true at outdoor concerts, which promote a more casual attitude. If you were unable to move your seats and unwilling to get an usher's attention, you could register a complaint with management on your way out, but that's about it.
Dear Annie: I read the heartbreaking letter from "Pedestrian in Pennsylvania," who is afraid to drive. I, too, was scared to drive because my dad died in a car wreck when I was 3. I, too, was humiliated when people found out I had no license.
Please tell "Pedestrian" to take driving lessons. I did when I was 33 and had a wonderful instructor. I thank God every day that I learned, because just six months later, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and I am now capable of driving her to every doctor's appointment and can even take her to the grocery store. Lucky in Kentucky
Dear Lucky: It was a blessing that you could overcome this problem in time to be there for your mother. We hope she makes a full recovery.
Annie's Snippet for Sept. 11: As only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you'll live through the night. Credit Dorothy Parker
E-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.