DEAR ABBY: My mother has a long history of lying in what appears to be her attempt to manipulate others. She is now 75, and my siblings and I know not to accept anything she says as the truth, and to always check with each other in order to find out the whole story.
The other day she lied to me about a doctor's appointment. Shortly after I talked to her, my sister called me, furious about what Mom had really done. I called Mom back that evening to give her a chance to tell the truth. Instead, she made up another lie to cover up what she had done. That's when I told her I had already spoken to my sister.
The whole situation makes me very sad, which I told her. I let her know I am "on to her" and have decided to give both of us some time to think about the situation. I know you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and I have given up trying.
I love Mom, but her continued manipulation of others has driven me away from her. Is there any way for her to see how much her inappropriate behavior affects those of us who care about her? — SAD SON IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
DEAR SAD SON: No. And by cross-checking whatever your mother tells you with your siblings, you are handling a difficult situation as well as you can.
DEAR ABBY: Our 19-year-old son is home from college for the summer and he "knows everything." His father and I have told him to wash all fruits and vegetables we buy fresh from the market before eating them. He feels this is not important and continues to eat apples, strawberries and lettuce directly from the container or plastic bag without rinsing them.
Please let me know if our fears are real. I have always been told washing is necessary. I would love to show him something on this subject because he thinks I'm silly and overprotective. — MOTHER KNOWS BEST IN TEXAS
DEAR M.K.B.: If seeing it in print will get your son's attention, I'm happy to oblige. Have him try this experiment: The next time he decides to eat a nice, shiny apple, have him soak it for 5 to 10 minutes in water to which several tablespoons of vinegar have been added. This will remove the waxy coating that is usually sprayed on them, and with it any dirt or "little critters" that may have become attached.
Also, periodically on the nightly news we hear announcements of FDA recalls because of salmonella or E. coli that has been discovered on various vegetables. Although some are packaged as ready-to-eat, they, too, should be rinsed before using. Consider it "health insurance."
DEAR ABBY: I am the parent of a child with special needs. To an outsider he looks different; adults and children stare at him when we're out.
My son is not aware of their impolite behavior, but I am — and it really irks me. What should I say to these insensitive people? — BOILING MAD IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR BOILING MAD: I don't think you should say anything. It is not unusual for individuals of every age to do a double take when they see someone — or something — that is "different." Of course staring is impolite, but unless someone makes a remark or asks a question about your son, you should ignore the person.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.