Dear Annie: I am 15 years old and I love your column. Here’s my problem: Ever since I was a little girl, I had one dream – to become an astronaut. I would gaze at the stars for hours each night, and I learned everything I could from books.
However, my parents have always drilled into me that I was to become a doctor or lawyer. They are very strict, and I always have obeyed them. I believe they do this for my benefit. My parents grew up poor. They want me to make heaps of money so I will want for nothing.
Whenever I bring up the topic of becoming an astronaut, they quickly shut it down, because they don’t believe astronauts earn enough. My parents will never support me in this. I have only one path, already drawn, complete with college courses and job openings. My parents see their friends’ children becoming lawyers, surgeons or specialists, and they expect me to do the same. Even my teachers and friends give me doubtful looks when I tell them what I want to do.
But let’s say that I cut ties with my parents and take college classes in physics and astronomy and don’t get into NASA. Medicine is a solid field. You can find jobs anywhere. Shoot for the stars? Very funny. Do I live for myself or my parents? – Trapped in the Grave of a Dream
Dear Trapped: Dreams are great, but they do not always translate to reality, as you know. According to NASA, the competition to be an astronaut is, well, astronomical – there are an average of 4,000 applicants for 20 openings every two years. You’d need a degree in engineering, science or mathematics, and then three years of related experience. Astronaut salaries are solid, but will not make you wealthy. But we don’t want you to give up your dream if you are that committed to it.
The good news is, you don’t have to decide today. In college, a pre-med program will require many of the same science classes that you would need to be an astronaut. This will give you an opportunity to see how well you do in those subjects, and your parents will have no objections.
Dear Annie: My husband died recently from complications due to Parkinson’s disease. He, too, suffered the indignities of incontinence, and initially refused adult diapers, even though he needed them.
I solved the problem by asking the nursing staff not to use the “D” word. After all, infants wear diapers and I did not want to infantilize my husband. I asked them to use the word “undergarments” to preserve the patient’s dignity.
I am happy to report that the entire staff eliminated the word “diaper” around my husband, and probably around all the other residents of the nursing home, as well. Hopefully, they understood that one must give dignity and respect to everyone, no matter the circumstances. – Advocating for My Husband
Dear Advocate: Sometimes the solutions to such problems are simple.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.