Dear Annie: I have a problem. I am 13 years old and am now getting homeschooled because of COVID-19. I have video calls with my teachers and lots of homework afterward.
We have three pets — two dogs and one cat. The problem is that I do not know how to give them all the same amount of affection. It is challenging when I am doing work and one dog or my cat comes up on the couch and I give it affection. But then another pet might see me giving affection to one of them, and the other one gets jealous. I cannot figure out how to give them an equal amount of affection. — Confused in Connecticut
Dear Confused in Connecticut: You sound like a very lovable, considerate and responsible teenager. One of the joys of life is to give our pets attention and affection. Before school begins, or during one of your breaks, play with them in the yard (if it's fenced in) or enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise by safely strolling your neighborhood. Walks are a great alternative to recess; they'll give your mind a break from learning virtually, too. You may rotate dogs if walking both at once is too much. Most cats would not enjoy a walk, but they'd love to chase a laser pointer or string. All the added attention will satiate your animals' needs for affection, possibly tiring them so they lay next to you while you're studying.
Another idea is to assign a "Pet of the Day." On that special day, take one dog and play tug of war or do a quick training session. On the next day, focus on the other dog. The third day could be kitty day. You don't want to neglect the other two pets on their off days.
To love animals is truly a gift, and it sounds like you have that gift in spades. Pets provide all sorts of comfort and physical and mental health benefits, plus unique and unconditional love during these uncertain times.
Dear Annie: You asked your readers to send in positive stories in the midst of this pandemic. While it's difficult to turn off the news and ignore the finger-pointing and negativity that comes with a crisis, I've made it a conscious goal to stay positive and hopeful. Here are three things that I am doing:
1. Exercising. I put on my workout togs first thing in the morning so there are no excuses. Upbeat music and a simple workout are my start to EVERY day. On nice days, I'll take a long walk as well, to appreciate nature and anticipate spring.
2. Keeping in touch with family, friends and neighbors by having at least one phone conversation every day. If my phone doesn't ring by midafternoon, I call someone, just to chat, share a joke or make an offer to pick up groceries, medications or pet food.
3. Revisiting old hobbies and interests. I'm finishing a scarf I started a year ago. I'm planning a new garden this spring. And I've rediscovered being a pen-pal. It may be old-fashioned, but it's so satisfying to open my email or post office box and receive news from a new friend in another country who is also adjusting to our changed world.
Thank you so much for inviting your readers to share their ideas and comments. I look forward to seeing what other readers have to say. — Grateful in Canada
Dear Grateful: Thank you for sharing your positive suggestions. They are all wonderful!
In times like these, a true hero faces hardship and finds meaning and purpose each day, as you are doing. Courage to face this pandemic is not about not being afraid of it; it is about acknowledging your fear and still living each day with lots of joy.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]