Andrew Jackson shuffled sleepily into the kitchen and wandered over to the counter where he picked up the coffee pot and poured himself a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee. Opening the fridge, he reached in and pulled out the cow-shaped creamer, from which he poured a generous dollop into his cup, added a heaping teaspoon of sugar and then lazily stirred the brew with a spoon that lay on the counter. Lifting the cup to his lips he took a long sip.
Ahh, that hits the spot. Andrew shuffled over to the table and sat down across from Rose who put her own coffee cup down and looked up from the book she was reading.
Good morning, master of the house, she said.
Good morning to you as well, said Andrew. And a good morning it appears to be, he added, glancing out the window. And thank you kindly for the excellent brew.
You are welcome, said Rose. I am quite enjoying it myself.
Andrew took another sip of coffee. Where s the young un this morning? he asked.
Sleeping soundly I m sure, was the reply. She got home relatively late last night. So I gather she s tired.
I suppose so. Andrew paused. How late? he asked.
Right around one o clock, said Rose.
Hmm, said Andrew. That is late. You might even say that s significantly post-curfew.
You might say that indeed, said Rose.
Andrew pondered that for a moment. Did you speak to her? he wanted to know.
I didn t, answered Rose with a half-smile. Did you?
Andrew laughed. I would have, he said,
but I vaguely recall being asleep at the time. I was dreaming that all of our children were perfect. He paused. It was a nightmare, he concluded.
Rose looked puzzled. Why would having three perfect kids be a nightmare? she asked.
Ah well that s the thing, said Andrew. It wasn t three. It was 13. And they were all the same age, 17, like Jennifer. What would you call it if you had 13 babies at once?
Hell on earth? said Rose.
I mean besides that, said Andrew. Like, eight babies you call octuplets, so what would you call 13?
I don t even want to know, said Rose. I don t think there s a word for that.
Well then we d have to make one up, said Andrew. Otherwise what would we call the TV show?
We could call it Andrew And Rose Plus All Of Those, said Rose. But I don t understand why 13 kids would be a nightmare if they were perfect kids.
Think about it, said Andrew. There s 13 of them. And they re perfect. So whenever they ask for anything we have no reason to say no to them, because whatever they ask for, they always deserve to get it. He paused. So yeah it was a bit of a nightmare. We were pretty broke.
Rose picked up her cup. Fortunately, in real life we are perfect, so we know exactly what to say to an imperfect child who comes home way past curfew, she said.
Yes, said Andrew. Fortunately we know exactly what to say. He took a sip of coffee. What exactly would we say?
You re grounded for life? said Rose. Sounds about right, said Andrew. He
leaned back in his chair and stared out the window for a minute. On the other hand, he said&
On the other hand what? said Rose. You sound like Tevye from Fiddler On The Roof.
Well, I feel like Tevye from Fiddler On The Roof, said Andrew. Trying to figure out how to handle my wayward daughter and whatnot.
At least you only have one daughter, said Rose. And you were saying, on the other hand&
On the other hand, she s not a child anymore, said Andrew. Maybe grounding her for life is not the& uh& not the perfect parental response?
Rose scowled at her coffee cup. I suppose not, she agreed grudgingly. And I suppose we should try to be the perfect parents and say the perfect thing.
Yes, said Andrew. Which would be what?
Nothing, said Rose.
Andrew raised an eyebrow. Seriously? he said. Nothing?
Well, almost nothing, said Rose. When she comes down I ll just say so, honey, couldn t quite make it in by curfew last night huh? And then we just listen to what she has to say.
Listen eh? said Andrew. That s a novel idea.
Exactly, said Rose. And we just have to pray that by the time she s done talking one of us has figured out what to say.
I like it, said Andrew. It s a good plan unless we don t figure out what to say. What do we do then?
Rose heaved a sigh. In that case, she said, I guess we ground her for life.