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Funny Valentine Isn't So Funny


Hey, Cherie!

I read this book you wrote, "Searching for David's Heart." It was a really good book. The guy in it, Sam, reminded me of myself. Like how he's smart and weird and kids dis him because he's short. I'm the shortest guy in the entire eighth grade. You just made Sam up, right? So I figured maybe I could confide in you and you would understand. So here goes.

Every year the eighth-graders do Lock Down Night, where we all sleep overnight at school in the gym with sleeping bags. We play games, have pizza and do other stuff. Since we all start high school next year, it's like this big thing that everyone looks forward to.

Honestly, there aren't a lot of things involving school that I look forward to because most of the time I find it incredibly boring. Plus, I had this best friend since first grade but his family moved to England. Since then, I've been kind of a loner. So there's this new guy at my school. I'll call him Pete, even though that's not his name. It has to be really tough to be the new kid who shows up at the end of eighth grade. Pete is short like me, wears glasses like me, and he's smart and funny. We started goofing around at Lock Down Night. It turned out we had a lot in common, like we both love sci-fi; we both hate moronic pop music and girls who shriek really loud just to attract attention. We got to be friends fast and it was pretty cool, or so I thought. The first day back at school after Lock Down Night, I found this card in my locker. It was a valentine and it said how much the person who sent it liked me. It was signed "Your Secret Admirer." No way is there a girl in my class who would send me a valentine, unless it was to make fun of me, so I know it has to be from Pete. I don't care if he's gay or whatever, but I'm pretty sure I'm not gay and I don't like him like that. So what do I do now? What if he tries to kiss me or feel me up, or something? You can't just be friends with a gay guy who wants to be more than friends with you, right? So what do I do now?

—I Like Girls Even Though They Don't Like Me

Hey, I Like Girls!

The good news is — you made a new friend and you guys really clicked. The bad news isn't that Pete might be gay, it's that you feel like maybe he's hitting on you and you bat in a different league.

Well, you will bat in different league — when you're older.

This does not have to be a big deal. In fact, the less of a big deal you make out of it, the less embarrassed Pete will be. Let's hope you guys can hang out and let your friendship grow. You could go at this kind of sideways, like tell him about some girl you like at another school. No need to oversell this — Pete will get the message. You're into girls — he isn't — whatever. Some people thrive on having tons of friends, some people don't. One true friend who "gets" you can make your life a whole lot happier. And yeah, a straight guy can be "just friends" with a gay.

Hey, Cherie!

This is so weird and gross it makes me want to barf. I'm 12. My little sister is almost 4 and she still isn't toilet trained. She wears a diaper and refuses to use the potty. She crouches in the corner and lets 'er rip and then the whole house stinks. I can't even have friends over because this is so disgusting.

My mom has tried to toilet train her, but Mom goes to college and works full time, so even though she's really ice and a good mom, she doesn't have much free time, and I don't have a dad. Last week when my sister pooped in the corner, I yelled "No!" and slapped her hand. She just cried and ran up to her room. But seriously, what am I supposed to do?

—Poop Patrol

Hey Poop!

I can almost sniff the stench from here. I'm not a therapist, so this is just an educated guest. Maybe your sister isn't getting enough attention because your mom is so busy, and she refuses to get toilet trained as a way of getting attention. Sometimes even negative attention can be better than no attention at all. I suggest you show your mom this column — your question and my answer.

I give your mom major props for being a single parent, working full time and going to school. Maybe she could make an extra effort to carve out some special time with your sister — even if it's only 10 minutes — and maybe you could, too. Providing there isn't any physical reason that your sister has nasty nappies, some extra loving attention from you and Mom might do the trick. Baby girl will want to poop just like her big sister.

Cherie Bennett is a best-selling author of books for teens and young adults. Visit her website at To find out more about Cherie Bennett and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



6 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 Girls have been leaving notes and valentimes as a joke in nerdy guys lockers since there first WERE lockers. I don't say this as an insult to you. I mention it because it might not have been Pete, he might not be gay, and you might not have anything to worry about.

However, if it was Pete, and he is gay, of course you can still be friends.
Comment: #1
Posted by: C Meier
Thu Feb 9, 2012 2:19 PM
Or maybe it is a girl. You don't know. Just enjoy, and keep being friends with Sam. Don't make this a big deal. You sound like a great guy. Keep doing what you're doing. No one-guy or girl-is likely in grade eight, to try to kiss you or feel you up without knowing that you want them to. Too embarrassing if the person pulls away.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Walkie
Thu Feb 9, 2012 4:23 PM
LW1: Yeah, I don't think you've got enough evidence to decide Pete is gay. That valentine could have been planted as a joke by Mean Girls, it COULD have been planted by a girl who does like you but is too shy to say so, or by Pete as a joke to make you think it was a girl who has a crush on you. Too many other possibilities to reach any one conclusion.

LW2: I don't think your little sister is trying to get attention. This is actually a more common problem than you'd think. There's a window of opportunity when it's easiest to motivate a toddler to want to be a "big girl" or "big boy" -- and after that, it gets trickier. You have to be pretty relaxed to pass a BM, and she may not be relaxed enough on the toilet, or she may be bored sitting there, and she's figured out that the diaper still works.

What motivated my kids: the idea of not being allowed to go camping or swimming until they no longer needed diapers. In many ways, it can be easier for busy moms to leave kids in diapers longer, but your mom is going to need to get her out of them before kindergarten. If there's a grandma or an experienced aunt she could visit for a long weekend, that might be the change your sister needs.
Comment: #3
Posted by: hedgehog
Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:25 PM
I wonder if this child is wearing disposable diapers? Maybe if they switched her to cloth ones, with those awful rubber pants, she'd decide to train herself. Offering rewards for a week or so might help, too.

I can promise the LW that her sister won't go to kindergarten wearing diapers for more than a day or two.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:44 PM
Dollars to doughnuts the kid's in disposables.

But health regs generally require kindergarteners (preschoolers, too) to be out of diapers. Most schools don't have the staff or physical facilities that would let them do so, under health code. (table, bleach solution, hand-washing station on site). And I'd bet sis stays with Grandma or a private day care provider, which is why it hasn't been addressed.

Not getting her trained well in advance sets her up for constipation problems. These are usually seen with little boys of this age, but it's common enough that our children's hospital has a program for treating it. I hope Mom will make this a priority to get Sis out of diapers and comfortable using the potty now, either by herself or by putting it in the hands of her babysitter or an understanding relative. Azrim & Foxx's Toilet Training in Less than a Day was a book/method that worked for all my kids.
Comment: #5
Posted by: hedgehog
Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:27 AM
LW1: Agree with everyone BTL. You're jumping to conclusions without enough facts. Being gay myself, quite frankly I find it extremely unlikely that Pete would make such a public display of his affection without at least coming out to you first. And even if Pete *is* gay, that doesn't mean he's going to try to feel you up or kiss you. Most gay men (and women) have just as much self-control as anyone else. Yes, you can still be friends with a gay guy.
LW2: Assuming your sister has no disabilities (my oldest son is moderately autistic and did not train til he was almost 6), Cherie's advice is good.
Comment: #6
Posted by: outoutout
Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:45 AM
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