DEAR ABBY: I am a 12-year-old girl in the sixth-grade. At my school, the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders all have classes together.

Lately, I’ve noticed the eighth-graders seem to think they are better than us sixth-graders. They make a point of letting us know that they are bigger, cooler and more grown-up than we are.

I am fed up. They were sixth-graders once, too. How do I handle them? They are only two years older, but they seem to think they’re practically adults and that we’re only about 4. Please help. – ANNOYED IN ASHLAND, ORE.

DEAR ANNOYED: My advice is to be patient and bide your time. Two catchphrases come to mind. They are, “Big fish in a small pond,” and “Time wounds all heels.”

Next fall, those snobbish eighth-graders will be headed for high school. No longer will they be the “most grown-up” students in school. On the contrary, they will be insignificant minnows in a much larger pool. They’ll receive from the sophomores, juniors and seniors the same treatment they are giving you. Remember that when you’re in the eighth-grade and interacting with students in the lower grades. It’s a lesson in humility.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were married in a small, intimate ceremony and reception in 2004. We were living in a condominium complex and had become close friends with one of our neighbors and her boyfriend, so we invited them to our wedding. Afterward, I opened their card. It read: “We are happy to share your day with you, but we are strapped for money right now and can’t afford a gift at this time. As soon as we’re back on our feet, we’ll make sure you get your wedding gift.”

We are now invited to their wedding. We never did receive a gift from them, nor has it ever been mentioned. These neighbors have a history of being “cheap,” so it’s not the first time.

My husband and I are at odds. I think we should attend the wedding and buy them a nice gift. He says we should just give them a card with no gift. Or should we simply not attend at all? I know that wedding gifts are just that – gifts. But I’d feel strange not giving them anything. I would also feel strange giving them anything under the circumstances. How should we handle this? – MIFFED IN MONTANA

DEAR MIFFED: The rule of etiquette is: When someone attends a wedding, a gift is in order. Your former neighbors broke that rule, and it has affected the relationship. Please don’t stoop to retaliation. The real question is whether you plan to attend or send your regrets – and only you can answer that.

DEAR ABBY: When does a step-parent stop being a stepparent? My father passed away a few years ago, and I have been wondering ever since if my stepmother is still my stepmother. What happens if she remarries?

We do not have a warm relationship, but we do make contact on birthdays and holidays. We live in different states. – JUST WONDERING IN GEORGIA

DEAR JUST WONDERING: I have always believed that what binds people together has more to do with what is in their hearts than official titles. If you are not close to the woman, it really doesn’t matter if she’s your “stepmother” or not. She’s your dad’s widow. Period.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.