MOM: So if a strange man says I asked him to pick you up after school, what do you do, Henry?
TODDLER: Ask him what my name is. If he gets it right, he’s definitely telling the truth.
MOM: And if he’s wrong?
TODDLER: Show him the first four letters of what it says on my backpack and give him a few more chances.
MOM: Exactly — men can be forgetful. Also, make sure whatever candy he gives you is unwrapped. Those labels cause cancer.
DAD: All set? Virtue-signaling seat belt slashed? Mirrors smeared with Vaseline? Left hand on the wheel at ten o’clock, right hand at nine-thirty?
SON: Uh-huh. And before you ask: yes, my foot is secured in the gas-pedal strap.
DAD: In the likely event you become a stunt driver for action movies, let’s practice some high-speed reverse turns in the parking lot of this preschool.
SON: You said I should be talking on the phone while driving?
DAD: Never! Only group texting with memes.
DAUGHTER: Dad, got a minute?
DAD: Sure thing — just cleaning the old outlet with a fork.
DAUGHTER: I wanted you to know that my boyfriend and I are talking about getting more… intimate.
DAD: Well, I can’t stop you from doing what you’re going to be doing in the panic room I built for you and Tom. Just please promise me that you’ll always, always use—
DAD: — the withdrawal method.
DAUGHTER: I know. Jeez, it’s so embarrassing to talk with my father about withdrawing.
DAD: Look, it may not be “cool” nowadays to pull out, but it’s the only truly “safe” sex, aside from wearing expired lambskin condoms with disease-fighting pinholes purchased on the dark web.
TODDLER: I’m hungry!
MOM: Tide yourself over with this cup of egg yolk that’s nice and hot from sitting out in the sun. Now, Henry, can you be a big boy and help Mommy while she looks at Pinterest by tippy-toeing up to that pot handle and stirring the boiling water? Harder — I’m not hearing it slosh.
TODDLER: This is boring!
MOM: Here, play ghost with this plastic shopping bag.
DAD: We found an empty bottle of vodka and a carton for a six-pack of beer under your bed.
SON: I’m really sorry, Dad.
DAD: I don’t even know what to say. How many times have I told you “liquor before beer, never fear; beer before liquor, never sicker”?
SON: Every day at breakfast.
DAD: I’m not upset with you; I’m disappointed. Promise me it won’t happen ever again in that order.
SON: I’ve learned my lesson — I’ve got an awful hangover.
DAD: All right. (sighs) Have a little hair of the dog by taking another shot and these prescription painkillers.
SON: Wow, I’m already feeling better!
DAD: I’ll leave you with the bottle. Don’t underdo it.
DAD: I want you to have a gun to protect yourself when you go to Oberlin.
DAUGHTER: What’s this?
DAD: The safety. This is very important: make sure it’s never on, or you’ll waste valuable seconds.
DAUGHTER: How do I know if it’s loaded?
DAD: The fastest way is to shake the gun while staring into the barrel. I see you’re scratching your temple with the muzzle — that’s what it’s there for. Ready for target practice?
DAUGHTER: Yep. So much room here in this parking lot. But why is Henry going into that unmarked beige van?
DAD: Your mom must have asked that unshaven fifty-something gentleman in the trench coat to pick him up for peewee soccer. Let’s make sure he’s safe… good, he’s not putting him into a death-trap booster seat. Tragedy averted!
DAUGHTER: I’ll follow them to make sure Henry’s hands are at ten and nine-thirty.
FATHER: Super. Text me a GIF from the highway.