Q: I don't know if this column is just for parents to write in, but I think some of them ought to know what their kids are thinking. I wish mine did.

Don't you know we have feelings? Don't you know we can hear?

Ever since I can remember, I've heard my mother say things like:

Finally Sally is going to school all day. Now I can do what I want to do.

My God, it's Christmas already. Two weeks at home with the kids and I'll be batty.

The trouble with a beach cottage is the size. There's no place to hide from the kids.

I can't imagine why we ever wanted children.

What I couldn't do with all that tuition!

My idea of a vacation is to get away from the kids.

At least with a job I have adults to talk to from 9 to 5.

To think they'll be at camp for FOUR WEEKS. I can't wait.

Can't you have your party somewhere else? You know your friends will break everthing we have.

Next week I leave for college and I heard her say to my dad, "Won't it be nice when Sally goes? We'll have a guest room again!"

Maybe I could think she was kidding a little if whe ever said she missed me when I was away or if she sounded happy to see me, but there's always an edge to her voice.

It's not just my mother who acts like this. A lot of my friends get the same. And they're always the mothers who wonder why their children never tell them what's going on.

A: Of course, those comments must hurt like knives, especially when you're going away for what you must know is the rest of your life.

Some sharp remarks are often spoken in the days before a family leave-taking, a sort of verbal minuet to build some distance and maybe make the pain a little less.That's standard.

And there are days when some terrible words are shrieked by the most saintly mother (whoever she is), but when harsh things are said so often that a child feels unwanted -- espcecially when the mother has good manners to other -- then you're listening to a woman who is very unsure of herself. She just hides it in an unfortunate way.

Teen-agers, you know, aren't the only people who try to be cool. Some mothers have been working at it for years -- and with about the same success.

Mothercool comes not from lack of love, Sally, but lack of self-esteem. This may surprise you, but there's nothing like being a mother to make a woman's ego fall to her socks by the time her child is 6. No matter how much she has loved this child, and how hard she has tried, there never was a day when a dozen things didn't go wrong and there was mighty little credit for the ones that went right.

Whoever heard a Two say, "Wow, what a great lunch"?

Now that the workload is lighter, many mothers -- like your own -- are sure people think their jobs are out of date, which makes them need compliments more than ever. To get them, they denigrate everything about parenthood, including the children -- trying in this upside-down way to tell the world that their work is as important as it ever was.

The problem is, you've been playing the game right along with her, instead of hearing what she's really saying. There's nothing to stop you from peeling back your own insecurities to tell her what she longs to hear: that it's hard to leave home; that you are going to miss her; that a dorm room won't be as nice as your room at home; that you're scared and will need lots of mail. If you can say what's in your heart, your mother may dare to be more honest too.