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DEAR ABBY: If a sitter is going to be at our home during mealtime, we always buy enough food for her. Here's the problem:

Some of these kids act like they never get a meal at home! For example: One sitter ripped through the entire cupboard and fridge, trying a little bit of everything, leaving all the packages open. Another one ate an entire box of snack crackers every time she sat for us. She also ate two full bags of potato chips. A third sitter came at 2 p.m. and announced that she had not had any lunch. I told her I had not planned on feeding her, so there wasn't much to eat. Well, she helped herself to two cans of cream of mushroom soup, a half loaf of bread (toast), and a jar of marshmallow creme!I've tried talking to these kids, leaving notes, and hiding the goodies we had bought for entertaining. Nothing has worked. Also, I wonder where my children were when all this mass consumption was going on.

The last straw was when a sitter sent our children to their rooms for a "nap" (they are 8 and 10) for 11/2 hours, while she cleaned out the fridge. Only after we took her home did we discover she had eaten our dinner and wiped out a week's supply of lunch meat.


DEAR FED UP: Leave nothing to chance. If your sitter is going to sit during a mealtime, set aside the meal she is to have, point it out so there will be no misunderstanding, and tell her that she is not to help herself to anything else. If your instructions are not followed, hire a sitter who is more mature and who will not clean you out.

DEAR ABBY: The story about David Rice Atchison, the alleged "president for a day," is a wonderful story. It's not true, but it's still a good story.

The term of James K. Polk's presidency ended at noon on March 4, 1849, and Zachary Taylor's term began at that time. The fact that Taylor did not take the oath until the next day has no relevance; the oath doesn't make a president. If it did, Atchison still would have no claim to the presidency; he never took the oath!

Consider this: Ninety minutes elapsed between the death of John F. Kennedy and the oath of Lyndon Johnson. Did Dean Rusk, the secretary of state, become the president for 90 minutes? Of course not. Or, for a more recent example, George Bush took the oath at 12:03 p.m. on Jan. 20, 1989. Did Dan Quayle serve as president for three minutes?

I was a schoolteacher for 10 years, and the amount of misinformation and sheer ignorance of history I found in the student population was absolutely appalling.

We are a nation of people who believe Abner Doubleday invented baseball, Henry Ford invented the automobile and Don Ameche invented the telephone. Abby, please do not spread more disinformation to a nation that wallows in far too much of it. - DAVID FLEITZ, BOWLING GREEN, OHIO

DEAR MR. FLEITZ: My information came from The Complete Unabridged Super Trivia Encyclopedia. My problem: Whom can we trust?

To get Abby's booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)