PARENT 1: Welcome home!

CHILD: Manipulative!

PARENT 1: Wait. What?

CHILD: Toxic!

PARENT 1: Who? Me?

CHILD: Narcissist!

PARENT 1: You keep saying words, but without verbs.

CHILD: Gaslighting!

PARENT 1: I’m just thinking that if you put these words into a sentence, I might get a better sense of what’s on your mind.

CHILD: You’re a manipulative, toxic narcissist!

PARENT 1: Me? How?

CHILD: Ah! See? Gaslighting!

PARENT 1: Okay, I feel like you’ve learned some new words at school, and now you’re just cycling through them without any context or evidence. Maybe you’re hungry. Would you like a sandwich? I’m making sandwiches.

CHILD: Manipulative! Toxic! Gaslight!

PARENT 1: You forgot narcissist.

CHILD: Narcissist!

PARENT 1: Is tuna okay? I have some nice tuna.

CHILD: Gaslight! Toxic! Manipulative! Narcissist!

PARENT 1: And I have some fresh bread from Ben’s Grocery. Would you like me to toast it? You always liked it toasted.

CHILD: Manipulative! Gaslight! Narcissist! Toxic!

PARENT 1: What would you like to drink? Your dad and I made lemonade yesterday. He thinks it’s too sweet, but I like it. I remember you like it sweet.

CHILD: Toxic! Manipulative! Gaslight! Narcissist!

PARENT 2 (walking into kitchen): Hey kid! You’re home! Give me a hug!

CHILD: Manipulative! Gaslight! Toxic! Narcissist!

PARENT 2: Hm. There seem to be some new words in her vocabulary.

PARENT 1: Yes, but no verbs. Just the four words, in different combinations.

CHILD: Gaslight! Toxic! Manipulative!

PARENT 1: You forgot narcissist.

CHILD: Narcissist!

PARENT 2: Interesting.

PARENT 1: Try these apple slices. They’re so bright tasting, don’t you think? I found them at the farmer’s market. I think they’re from Oregon.

CHILD: (chewing sounds) Manipulative… Toxic… Gaslight… Narcissist.

PARENT 2: Would you like some dessert? Aunt Sandy dropped off some ice cream.

CHILD: Gaslight! Toxic! Narcissist!

PARENT 1: You forgot manipulative.

CHILD: Manipulative!

PARENT 2: Here you go. I put it in that bowl you made in third grade.

CHILD: (slurping sounds) Toxic… Manipulative… Narcissist…. Gaslight…

PARENT 1: Feel better now?

CHILD: Gaslight. Toxic. Narcissist. Manipulative.

PARENT 1: Oh, I forgot. You should see your room. I cleaned the windows, and Dad sewed that frayed part of your bedspread. And the cat’s been sleeping on your pillow. She can’t wait to see you.

CHILD: Trauma!

PARENT 1: Yes, right. I figured that one was coming.

PARENT 2: Well, welcome home.

PARENT 1: We look forward to a wonderful summer with you.

PARENT 2: You and your new words.