15 year old Kathy is sitting on her bed, checking her iphone for emails, when she hears her mother’s footsteps approaching her door. “Oh, shoot, here comes another lecture”.
She jumps off the bed, straightens her hair, goes to her desk and braces herself for the usual nagging mother-daughter talk when Joan, enters the room. Her mother stands there surveying the scattered clothing and left-over pizza on the bed but Joan has just finished reading “How To Get Along With Your Teenager” so she surprises her daughter by speaking to her in a hushed tone. “Kathy, your friend, Sharon, told me about your breakup with your boyfriend, Tom. I am so sorry. I understand your pain. Would you like to talk about it?”
That’s the last thing Kathy wants to do, so she applies what she learned from the book which she keeps hidden under her pillow called “How to Deal with your Parents.” “Mom it’s wonderful that you worry so much about me, but I know you’ll understand that I need to be alone at this moment. And by the way I love your new hairdo. It makes you look so young.” Her mother leaves the room smiling sweetly and Kathy fishes the latest copy of “Teen Movie Star’s Love Nest” out her of her bureau draw.
The front door opens and Joan’s 13 year old son, Roger, comes into the house anxious to get up to his room. When he sees his mother coming down the stairs his freckled face forms a scowl and he says,“ I bet you were upstairs seeing my spoiled sister”. Joan is ready for him. Her recent book from the library is called “Sibling Rivalry” so she says, “Roger, I’m so glad you’re home. I miss you when you’re in school. You know that you’re special. How about keeping me company in the kitchen where we can have a nice chat? I’ve got your favorite donuts waiting there.”
Roger can’t wait to get up to his room so he can read the latest issue of Playboy. He remembers some passages from a book that his friend, John, lent him entitled “How To Present A Picture Of Serious Behavior To Your Parents” and he says “Mom, can it wait? My English teacher is expecting a special report on Tolstoy due tomorrow.” Roger has learned that parents will accept any excuse relating to school.
“Of course, dear.” His mother says, “You know your school work always comes first.”
Going into the kitchen, Joan fishes out her “60 Seconds To A Gourmet Dinner” cookbook and takes it over to her work counter thinking she will prepare a wonderful meal for her husband, Henry, who has been working long hours all week “He deserves a good dinner.” she thinks, and she can finish reading “The Perfect Wife” while the casserole is baking in the oven.
The phone rings. It’s her husband, Henry, who is reading “How To Be Your Own Best Friend” at work. “Joan,” he begins slowly “I’m not coming home for dinner. In fact, I’m not coming home at all, never, not anymore. I need my space.”
After hanging up the phone, Joan takes the Perfect Wife, and the Gourmet cookbook and tosses them into the trash. She fishes out two other books she’s been saving, called “How To Live Through A Divorce” and “Getting Even” and she goes up to bed.
The house is silent tonight except for the sound of pages being turned in all three bedrooms.
by E. Ross