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Tale of toddler’s tumble is a word of warning to parents

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Dear Abby: Yesterday I treated a 2-year-old who had fallen three stories out the window of his suburban home. I was moved by the little fellow's plight, and the obvious emotional and physical effects of the trauma. For me it was deja vu because eight years ago, my darling nephew, who lived just across the road from me, did the same thing. He fell two stories to the back yard below.

On my way home yesterday, I mentioned the small sky diver to a neighbor. To my astonishment, she informed me that another neighbor had a near miss recently with her 2-year-old. Mom caught her just as the little one popped a second-story screen out of the window.

Abby, I don't know how often this happens, but I have a feeling it's a growing problem. Many modern suburban homes have tall windows that start just a few inches above the floor. A 2-year-old is too young to realize the risk, but heavy enough to lean against a window screen and dislodge it.

In my family's case, the child's mom thought she'd open the window just enough to let some fresh air into his room while he napped. Unfortunately, he woke quietly and fooled with the window screen while his mother thought the baby was safely sleeping.

All three children survived, but I am truly concerned. Please warn parents. — Dr. Ann Kosa, Chiropractor, Alpharetta, GA.

Dear Dr. Kosa: Stories of children falling out of windows are becoming more common. Parents and caregivers should never assume screens are so securely attached that they will support the weight of a small child. Parents who can afford it would be wise to install interior "decorative" guardrails at the base of windows. An exuberant child doesn't have to fall two stories to be injured. The glass itself could be a hazard.

Dear Abby: I am 14 and a serious martial artist. I am depressed because I lost a fight at the state championships. Everyone said I was going to sweep all the medals, but I lost. I tried and tried — I fought with everything I had. But I couldn't avoid my opponent's kicks.

Everyone now looks at me like I'm a loser. Maybe I lost because I'm inexperienced, because it was my first tournament. Or maybe I just don't have what it takes to be a winner. I lost my will and confidence, and this little voice keeps telling me I'm a loser and don't deserve to fight anyone because I'm nothing.

Is it possible to become better at something even though you think you're at the peak of your ability? — Depressed Teen in the Desert

Dear Teen: Certainly! No one reaches the top without having failed — usually more than once. Everyone has setbacks. We often learn more from our failures than our successes.

Consider yourself a champion in the making. Look back over the tournament, see what your weaknesses are, and work on correcting them. One loss does not a loser make. The trait that makes a champion is perseverance. Don't give up. Continue striving to be the best you can be, and you'll climb the ladder of success.

A Happy Fourth to My Readers. What a great country we live in. In the words of an Irving Berlin song, "God Bless America."

Please celebrate this holiday safely, with joy and gratitude to our forefathers, our military, and all of those who work to keep this the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Confidential to My Womb-Mate: Happy birthday, Sissy!

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)© Universal Press Syndicate