Mother: [beaming] Oh, we don't mind at all. We've received several calls from Tommy's teachers. He's such a special boy.
Well, yes ... I think special is an appropriate word for Tommy. But ...
Father: Special [reddening slightly]? One more call from a teacher, and I'll wring his special little neck!
Mother: Harold, that's terrible! He's just kidding, Ms. Wentz, he would never hurt our Tommy.
Father: No, Martha, I'd never wring his neck [looks at me, eyes narrowing, smile grim]. But, I've given serious thought to moving away while he's at camp. [We chuckle heartily, but Mother looks horrified.]
Mother: I'm horrified!
Ahem ... I'm concerned with Tommy's work. He hasn't read the last two books I assigned or done the book reports, and he's not turning in his homework.
Mother: [mouth pinched] Well, that's a lot of work for a little boy.
Father: Little boy? [voice low, smile gone] Martha, that "little boy" is 13 years old!
Mother: Harold, your temper. Ms. Wentz, Harold is just somewhat bewildered as to how we must accommodate a gifted child.
Father: Bewildered? I'm bewildered as to how you can call that ignoramus gifted! The only thing he's gifted at is playing you like a trout! [Martha's mouth does resemble that of a gasping fish.] "Accommodate" him? What a load of horse--
Mother: Harold! [indicating me with a nod of her head]
That's fine, Mrs. Jones. [You go, Harold!] However, Tommy's had plenty of time to read these books and do his assignments. He isn't paying attention, either, but when I reprimand him, he blames other kids.
Mother: Well, maybe it is the other children, Ms. Wentz? Tommy has always been plagued by mean children. Obviously, they're jealous of him, but he's such a trusting boy, he just doesn't believe it.
Father: [snort] Martha, that boy would sell out his own grandmother ...
Mother: [gasp] Harold!
Father: ... to get out of trouble, and you know it! You've coddled him forever. I won't have it any more!
Mother: I have not coddled him, Harold Jones. Ms. Wentz, in your professional opinion, has Tommy been coddled?
[Duh!] Well ...
Father: [standing] Never mind. I've heard enough. Ms. Wentz, Tommy will have those book reports finished by the end of the week. And, his homework will be done from now on, that's for damn sure!
Thank you for your support, Mr. ... uh ... and Mrs. Jones. I understand how hard an adolescent can be, but I believe that with the right, shall we say, encouragement, Tommy will go far. [I vote Bolivia!]
Mother: But, Harold, he can't do all that work so fast. He's weak! He needs rest!
Father: Martha, the only thing weak about that boy is his mother!
Mother: Oh! [tears up dramatically] How can you say that?
Father: It's surprisingly easy, Martha. Now, I'm going home to have a little talk with my son--alone.
Mother: [sputtering, horrified again] But ... but ... but ...
Father: That's right, Martha. [an anticipatory smile lights his eyes] His "but" is mine.