Dear Annie • My good friend "Kathy" has an 8-year-old son, as do I. "Brian" is extremely smart, but has a sailor's vocabulary. He also threatens other kids and says he will beat them up. Sometimes, Brian encourages other kids to hit him. Over the years, he's been in trouble numerous times, but Kathy blames the school, saying Brian is too smart to sit still and acts up because he's bored.
She's right that Brian can easily do the work. However, last week I had to tell Brian that he couldn't play with my son anymore because of his nasty tongue and the threats he made at a religious program. Brian's response was one of confusion. He asked, "Why? What did I do?" I was shocked that he had repressed his behavior so well that he did not even acknowledge that his poor choices may have negative repercussions.
I informed him that he had a problem using language correctly. At that point, my son jumped in and gave Brian some rules for avoiding trouble, reinforced with an ultimatum that he wouldn't play with him if he didn't stop.
When I returned Brian to his stepdad, the man was shocked by what I told him and expressed uncertainty of what to do. I am sad but I can't have my son around a boy who has no idea how to behave. I've wanted to help Brian, but isn't it time to write off this friendship because it could hurt my son? — Price of Friendship
Dear Price • We don't believe Brian is repressing his behavior. We think he doesn't realize how inappropriate he is. And because he encourages other kids to hit him, there may be more going on. It doesn't help that his mother blames the school, giving Brian the impression that he isn't responsible for controlling himself. Please don't write him off. Your son sounds quite capable of being a good influence, as are you. Suggest to Brian's parents that they get an evaluation from his doctor.
Dear Annie • I'm 21 years old. It's been four years since my little son passed away, and I'm still depressed. I miss him very much.
No one quite gets how I feel, and it hurts. My depression is affecting my relationship with my boyfriend. I've tried my best to get help, but I'm not any better. I work on being happy on the outside, but inside, I'm always crying. I pray every day that everything will get better. What should I do? — Missing My Son in Hawaii
Dear Hawaii • The death of a child is devastating. You could benefit from speaking to others who have suffered such a terrible loss. Please contact the Compassionate Friends (compassionatefriends.org) at 1-877-969-0010, and get some help.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, Calif. 90045.