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Dear Abby: My 15-year-old son will be entering 10th grade. He has been a member of the school band since sixth grade. After performing in last year’s Christmas parade, a group of the students went to a nursing home to perform for the residents. When we arrived, I started to get out of the car with my son so I could listen, as other parents were doing. My son seemed surprised that I was going to stay and said he would rather I didn’t because I make him nervous. Needless to say, I was devastated.

Now, whenever there’s a concert, festival, parade or football game, I stay away, although I love to listen and watch the band play. When I don’t attend, I feel hurt all over again. I’m his mother. I’m at a loss as to why I make him nervous, because I have always given him positive feedback on any performance. Should I respect his wishes and stay away, or go because it is what makes me happy?

Missing The Show

in Michigan

Dear Missing The Show: Have you ASKED your son why your presence makes him nervous when he performs? His answer might be enlightening. It could be something as simple as the fact that you are his mother. Sometimes teens become self-conscious simply because a parent is present, which may be the case with your son. That said, if you wish to attend his performances, I think you should, IF you can do it unobtrusively, preferably out of his line of sight, and refrain from giving him feedback.

Dear Abby: Life has me worn out. I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I could (considering my upbringing), traveled as much as I wanted, strived to be a good husband and father, a good employer, a loyal volunteer, a supportive friend and good neighbor. I have done so many different things during my life that at this point, the thrill is gone.

At 56, I am tired of working, tired of travel, bored with my hobbies and sick of dealing with most people in general. I’m relaxed and laugh easily and have good relationships, but nothing excites me anymore. Honestly, if the Grim Reaper tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Pack your bags; tomorrow’s the day,” I’d just shrug and ask, “’What time?”

I have been to the doctor. He said I’m depressed, but I don’t FEEL depressed. I think the meds he put me on made me depressed! I went to a couple of therapists who told me I don’t need therapy; I just need to find a new “spark.”

So what’s a person to do? Must I keep wallowing through days waiting for the end? Am I the only one who feels this way?

Wallowing In The North

Dear Wallowing: You are not the only person who feels this way, and NO, you don’t have to keep “wallowing.” It appears you are experiencing a plain old-fashioned midlife crisis. Contact the psychologist with whom you felt the most connection — or search for another one until you do — and discuss what you are experiencing in those terms, because you need more help than I — or anyone — can give you in a letter.

Dear Abby: When I was 7, my mom hosted a birthday party for me. As we made out the guest list, I didn’t want to invite a girl who wasn’t popular. Mom told me to invite her or I wouldn’t have a party. I invited her, but she didn’t come.

That inclusiveness lesson made a big impression on me. Later, in school, I became an unpopular girl. I missed many of my classmates’ parties, but the lesson stayed with me.

In high school and beyond I have befriended people who were unpopular or who are seen as misfits. And you know what? My life has been richer from these experiences. So I would like to offer a belated thank-you to my mother for making me invite that little girl years ago, because it shaped my life.

Kathy in Pennsylvania

Dear Kathy: Your mother is a wise and compassionate woman. The lesson here is, popularity can be fleeting. But having compassion for people who need it is forever.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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