"Boswell Jr.," Julia coos calmly, "put down that chain saw."
Sweetie and I have decided we're getting too old for friends with children. It's the kids. It's the parents.
"Is that Burgundy?" Julia asks, staring up at a dusty bottle on top of my pantry.
"Oh, you don't want that," I assure her. "It's this rotgut stuff I use to cook ..."
Before I can finish the sentence, Julie has scaled my pantry shelves and retrieved the bottle. Jerking the cork out with her teeth, she fills her glass.
About this time, Julia's little wrecking ball of joy rolls into the kitchen dragging Sweetie's electric guitar.
"Want some!" Boswell Jr. demands, dropping the guitar with a twang.
"Son," Boswell Sr. says firmly, "remember our discussion on possession and ownership?"
"Give it to me now!" Junior screams, stomping his $100 Nikes.
Jumping up, the kid grabs his mother's arms. The glass jerks down, the wine flies up, and Julia and her pale pink cashmere dress are baptized in cheap Burgundy.
"We haven't quite perfected the concept of delayed gratification," Julia explains as she licks a drip.
"I'm betting an electric collar would speed the learning curve," Sweetie says, staring at the broken strings on his guitar.
"I shudder when I think of the mistakes our parents made in child-rearing," Boswell Sr. shudders. "You better believe we won't make those mistakes."
Boswell Sr. pulls down six figures a year, was the youngest vice president in the history of his Fortune 500 company and has a house on the lake.
"Who knows what I could have been with a different upbringing," he sighs.
Sweetie and I glance over at Junior. He's peeing on my philodendron.
"How does one mold a child without stifling creativity?" Julia asks, taking a gulp straight from the bottle.
"Guilt, manipulation and fear always worked for my parents," I say.
"Barbarians!" Boswell Sr. booms.
"Boswell Sr. still has nightmares because he was physically disciplined as a child," Julia explains.
"Spanking scars the child."
Meanwhile, Junior is trying to serve our cat with a tennis racket.
"I don't think Junior should play with the cat," I say, running to rescue the tennis racket. "The cat will scratch him."
"Your cat hasn't been declawed?" Julia gasps in horror. Julia and Boswell Sr. raise eyebrows at each other.
"Don't you feel that's socially irresponsible?" Boswell Sr. asks indignantly.
"Tell you what," Sweetie says. "I'll declaw the cat if you'll neuter your wife."
P.S. Wall is a syndicated writer in Tennessee. Write her c/o Universal Press Syndicate, 4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111.