Q: I have a problem. I have a major crush on this boy, and he's 16, but I'm only 12. My friend asked him to go out with me, but he didn't answer her. I don't know what to do.
A: It can be really frustrating to like someone and not have that person like you in return. This is what appears to be happening with you and the 16-year-old. However, it doesn't mean that you're not good enough for him or that no one will ever like you. He may think you're too young or maybe he's attracted to girls who are different from you in looks or personality. So try to accept his not being interested in you. If it hurts too much, keep busy in school and with friends so that you won't be constantly thinking about him. Surely, there will be other boys you'll like who will like you, too.
Q: I'm writing to talk about the right age to start dating. I'm 11, and have been dating since I was 8. You would have to be pretty crazy to do something stupid. So far dating has made me more friends of the opposite side. It also lets me learn more what that side likes. Therefore, I disagree with those who think I'm too young to date.
A: Being friends with boys and dating them are different. From your letter, it sounds as if you're talking more about friendships. Dating eventually involves physical closeness with a boy and special feelings toward him and is more likely to start when boys and girls are in their teen-age years. On the other hand, friendships can begin at any age and can help boys and girls learn more about each other. These friendships may even help girls feel more comfortable with boys when they're older and interested in dating. However, some girls and boys avoid one another from around ages 7 to 10, and this is normal, too. I do think, however, that dating involving a special feeling for a boy and a wish to be physically close is better handled by older teen-agers.
Q: I am a 10-year-old girl and I have a crush on another 10-year-old boy. He is always looking at me and I am always looking at him. But I still can't decide whether he likes me or not. I need help!
A: He probably does like you, or why would he keep looking at you? See if you can get the guts to make friends with him. Find a way to begin a conversation. For example, ask which class he's in or mention that you've noticed the way he walks home and ask where he lives. Then he might ask about you and a friendship between you might begin.
Dr. Sokal is a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist practicing in Baltimore. If you have a question, send it to Kids Ask, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.