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Mom acted right during holdup

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Dear Abby: I'm a 36-year-old "super mom." I'm active in PTA, shuttle our two daughters and their friends around town, play on a community softball team, go to a gym twice a week and work Wednesdays in a small sports equipment store owned by my in-laws.

My older daughter, "Jenny" (a junior in high school), stopped by the store last Wednesday after school. A few minutes later a nervous-looking man entered. He asked me about some ski equipment, and then — holding what he claimed was a gun in his pocket — demanded money from the register.

Abby, if I had been there alone I would have walloped him and run for the door, but I didn't want to take any chances with my daughter there. I told him to take what he wanted and leave.

Well, that wasn't the end of it. He ordered us into the back room, told us to lie face down, bound our hands and feet with duct tape, gagged us and left. Despite heroic tugging and squirming, neither Jenny nor I could free ourselves. It was more than an hour before a customer came in, heard us moaning and found us trussed up in the back of the store.

Thinking back, I was more angry than scared during the time we lay bound. Mostly I was worried that Jenny would be traumatized for life. I felt completely helpless.

I could hardly believe what happened next. When we were freed, Jenny wasn't traumatized. She became furious — at me! She literally screamed at me, "Why did you let him tie us up, Mom?" She apparently felt — and still feels — that we could have used kung fu on him or something.

Although I still think I did the right thing, I feel guilty that my daughter is disillusioned because her mother allowed someone to tie us up without a fight. I have gone from super mom to super schnook. Any ideas on how to win back my daughter's admiration? — Bound and Gagged, Newton, Pa.

Dear Bound and Gagged: You acted appropriately. Real life is not a martial arts movie where heroines take risks and live beyond the closing credits. If you had tried to "wallop" the robber, one or both of you might not be alive today.

Don't be so quick to conclude that your daughter "wasn't traumatized." She is blaming you for what happened because she felt helpless and humiliated. Both of you could benefit from some short-term post-traumatic stress counseling so that what happened can be put in proper perspective.

Dear Abby: I had a thought after reading the letter from "Feeling Alone in the Office." He complained about his co-worker, "Maury," who can't seem to stop talking to his office mates and customers. It is possible that Maury is an adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If he has ADHD, it would explain why he has trouble controlling his behavior.

If "Feeling Alone" works for a company with medical benefits or an employee assistance plan, perhaps Maury could be evaluated and get some real help. — Parent of a Child With ADHD

Dear Parent: That the man could be an adult with ADHD never occurred to me. It is also possible that he is simply a compulsive talker. Whatever the cause, I agree it wouldn't hurt for him to be evaluated, if he is open to it.

Dear Abby: I witnessed a situation in a popular restaurant recently. It left me wanting to share it, in order to protect other innocent children from possible danger.

A little girl got up from a table, where she was sitting with her mother and a sibling, and headed toward the "unisex" restroom, arriving there just ahead of me. She went in, the door closed, and then she came out. I asked her if she was through, and she told me that there was someone inside, but the door had been left unlocked. I stood with her outside the door, and a man walked out. I was shocked. The little girl then went inside, and I waited my turn.

The incident left me with questions: Did the man purposely leave the door unlocked? Did he expose himself to the little girl?

I'm upset with myself for not confronting the man, not informing the mother, not reporting it to the management. I know if someone had walked in on me, I would have gasped or shrieked or something. I was standing there and heard nothing.

The bottom line, Abby, is that parents need to take more responsibility for the welfare of their children. Children shouldn't be SENT to a public restroom — they should be escorted. — Concerned Mother in Mission Viejo, Calif.

Dear Concerned: I commend you for writing an important letter. Responsible parents accompany children to the restroom — even if it's a same-sex facility.

Confidential to Dearest Mom and Aunt Eppie: Happy birthday and love to the prettiest, wittiest "firecrackers" in the world. — Jeanne


Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips. To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, 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 61054-0447. (Postage is included.) © Universal Press Syndicate