Me: (walking into a dark bedroom to confront a grounded Hank) Are you ready to answer my question now?
Hank: (sprawled across his bed, listless in the dark) I don’t even remember your question.
Me: You have a talent, my friend, for picking the wrong day, the wrong time and the wrong place to dish me a plate of sass.
Hank: (monotone, without a trace of energy) I really don’t remember.
Me: (deep breath) Why is it that you want to go out for an afternoon with Prima (cousin Monica) and her friend hiking and geo-cashing, but when I ask you to walk across the street to help Prima (cousin Monica) buy some tomatoes you refuse?
Hank: (not making eye contact) It’s not across the street.
Me: (angry) The praça is across the street.
Hank: No, it isn’t.
Me: Really? Really, Hank? Do you think giving me lip is a good idea right now. Do you have any idea how selfish and inappropriate you are being today OF ALL DAYS?
Hank: (freakishly calm) The praça is behind Continente (supermarket), around the corner and across from the feira (flee market). It is not across the street.
Me: (seething) Answer my question.
Hank: I don’t even remember your question.
Me: (fists clenched) You are going to grow old in this room. You will be grounded for so long I will be long dead and buried before you see the outside world again. I promise you if your intention is to make me shake with rage you are succeeding, Henrique José. Now, why is it that you clearly want to go do fun things with Monica and her friend, but right now you can’t do a little thing to help your mother and prima (cousin).
Hank: (rolling over, turning his back to me) Because I don’t want to get dressed.
Me: Then (deep breath) you will get exactly what you want today because you are not leaving this room. Lights will remain off and the blinds are down. When you apologize for your disrespect we will discuss the terms of your internment. Until you can find the sincerity and compassion I know lives in your heart you will remain in this room.
Hank: (now just throwing daggers) I don’t know what half of those words mean.
Me: Thank you, Hank. Thank you for teaching yourself a valuable lesson today. Today you learned how easy it is to become cold, heartless and malevolent. You learned it takes no work at all. Less work than it takes to be charitable, compassionate and respectful. I am so grateful I don’t have to teach you this lesson. You just taught yourself. (pause, on my way out the door) I hope my boy decides to return today, because you must be a changeling child. You must have been left here in the night, because I haven’t met this Hank. No, this is the first time I have met you. And I don’t like the person in front of me, wreaking havoc over a trip to buy tomatoes, breaking hearts and hurting feelings.
Me: (shutting the door on this conversation)