Childe Labor

“Janet, I’m not trying to tell you how to raise your child.”

“Oh, really? Because that’s what it sounds like to me.”

“I’m only telling you this because I love you. Because I want to help you.”

“This is ridiculous.”

“You know I’m right. If you would just look at it objectively, you know I’m right.”

“I knew this would happen. You told me when we started dating that you didn’t have a problem with my having a daughter.”

“I don’t have a problem with it. Grace is a wonderful kid. You know I care about her. But I care about you more. And she’s a drain on you.”

“A drain? How would…how can you say such a thing?”

“She’s taking advantage of you, Janet.”

“She’s a child.”

“She’s a child as long as you treat her like one. She’s getting older every day. And she never even talks about working or getting her own apartment or even going back to school.”

“It’s summer!”

“Sure, it is now. And how many more semesters are you going to let her lounge around here, buy her all of her food, let her do whatever she wants? The other day I asked her what she wanted to do with her life, and do you know what she told me? She said she wanted to be a princess.”

“That’s…”

“A princess, Janet. Talking like that, she’s going to be borrowing money from you when she’s 35.”

“So what are you suggesting? Since you know everything about child-rearing?”

“Well, getting a job would be a good start.”

“She’s too young.”

I had a job when I was her age.”

“You did not!”

“Yes I did!”

“Oh, doing what?”

“Landscaping.”

“What does that mean? You mowed your dad’s lawn?”

“I don’t know who you think you’re going to score points off of, denigrating a whole profession.”

“She doesn’t need a job. I make plenty of money.”

“It’s not about the money. It’s about responsibility. Lots of people are working at her age.”

Where?”

“Southeast Asia. Africa. In some countries she could join the Army.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Look, I’m not saying she should join the Army. It’s just an example.”

“Martin, she’s six.”

“It’s not like I’m suggesting she should work in a factory or anything.”

“Yes you are! You did just yesterday!”

“First of all, Helm isn’t a factory. It’s an assembly plant. They don’t make things there, they just put them together. Second, it’s a union shop. She’d get great benefits, vacation, the whole deal.”

“Just let this go, Martin. I’m serious. I don’t want to hear any more about building character, or taking responsibility, or how little girls grow up fast these days. Just let it go.”

“All right, Janet. She’s your daughter.”

“Well, I’m glad we agree on something.”

“I just wonder who’s going to pay for that pony she’s always talking about.”

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