Wednesday, February 6, 2013


"If you had to pick one of us to kill, which one would it be?" my youngest asked me.


"If you had to kill one of your kids, which one would you pick?"

 "Don't even pretend it wouldn't be me," the middle boy shouted from upstairs. At least we're not lacking self-awareness in my household.

"What are you talking about now?" I asked.

"I know it wouldn't be my oldest brother," he said. "Everyone knows he's the best kid."

"He's not the best kid," I said. "You're all great."

The youngest gave me a skeptical look.

"Seriously," I said, "You are. I wouldn't kill any of you."

"The oldest had better grades in high school than I do."

"Your grades are fine."

"His were better."

"Then work harder," I said. "He spent forty hours a week studying. If you want to do that, you've got three and a half years left and your test scores are as high as his were. Besides, even if he had better grades than you end up with, that doesn't make him a better person."

"Okay," he said. "What if I got really good grades and got a scholarship to the University of Miami?"

"That would be great, if that's what you want to do," I replied.

"And then when I got there I started using heroin and flunked out? Would he be a better person then?"

"Heroin?" The boy doesn't even drink soda. "What the hell? You're making less sense than usual."

"If I started using heroin then I'd be a worse kid, right?"

"No, but you'd certainly be making worse choices."

He pondered that for a moment. "So, would you kill me if I started using heroin?"

"I wouldn't need to." I turned to the computer and Googled an image search for "heroin" and "arm." I pointed at the screen. "Here, look."

He did, and gagged.

"Not cool, right?" I asked.

"That's horrible," he said.

"Yes, it is," I said.

"So, who would you kill?" he asked again.

"I've invested too much to kill any of you," I said.

"You mean all the money you've spent?" he asked.

"That too," I said, and gave him a hug.

"Weird," he said.

"You're a good kid," I said.

"Okay," he said.

"One of the best," I said.

"I"m going to go upstairs and work on my homework," he said.

"Good choice," I said.