Linda: How old are your children?
Jim: Thirty-five and thirty-three.
Martha: Nineteen, seventeen, and fifteen.
Jim: Don’t worry, they’ll be gone soon.
M: Why should I worry?
J: Well, when my children were teenagers, my wife and I took every opportunity to be out of the house: golfing, fishing, hunting, women’s group for her and poker every Friday and Saturday night for me, and adult church supper every Sunday evening.
L: Yes, yes. I have a three year old and a five year old, so I know exactly what you mean by needing to get away.
J chuckling: I still remember all of those sleepless nights getting the baby to stop crying!
L: Tell me about it.
M: Well, that’s the deal with babies, they don’t understand how to wait; when they need something they need it now.
L: Yes, yes, but they’re so….needy.
J: That’s how they are, and it doesn’t ever stop. Even now my kids call me: “Benny broke his arm and I don’t think I can pay the bill.” Did you ever think of getting health insurance? He’s not my kid; it’s time you take responsibility.
M: Is Benny your…step-grandson?
J: No, he’s my grandson, why did you think-
L interrupting: Maybe they can’t afford insurance.
J: Oh they could if they thought ahead and saved.
There was a silence.
L: I can’t even fathom three teenagers.
M: It’s really not that bad-
J: Oh, you’re just more patient then the rest of us.
L: I must say I’ve never seen three teens more well-behaved. How did you do that?
M: Love, care, coddling and being honest.
L: Well, we all do that, but what’s your secret? What do you do to make them behave?
M: I don’t do anything. They learned basic manners when they were really young. Every once in awhile they need reminders, but we all do, don’t we?
M gives a laugh to break the tension.
J: How did you do that?
M: I was always right there reminding them. If I said “No” and they didn’t listen, there was always a consequence. I never let them get away with anything, so they grew up knowing that if they chose to cross a line they would get into trouble.
L: But that sounds so time-consuming.
J: And straining.
M: Sometimes that part of raising a child is hard, but I found most of it all a joy.
J grunts and walks off.
L as she walks away: Well, I have no idea how you can have all of that energy.
M to herself: You don’t care enough to make the effort. That’s too bad for you.