by Jerry Guarino
The headmistress called the
boys parents in for a conference to discuss
a troubling incident she had just discovered.
Mr. and Mrs. Rook. Thank you for coming in.
Im sorry to say that Clay has been stealing
money from classmates.
Stealing? said Clays mother
Amber. We certainly taught him better than
Are you sure? said the father. Clayton
was given very specific instructions for the
school year, considering the fiasco of last
semester. By the way, has everyone been
Yes, Mr. Rook. The settlement was quite
satisfactory. The parents were more embarrassed
Call me Charles, please.
Meanwhile, the school psychologist, Dr. Wilson,
was examining Clay in his office. He began by
asking him when he first learned how to
My father helped me build a lemonade stand
when I was five. First, we white washed it, and
then we used yellow paint to write LEMONADE
on the top, with the E reversed of
course. Pictures of lemons and a pitcher
completed the simple graphics.
And how old were you when you had this
lemonade stand? said the psychologist.
I was five. I believe my father was 43.
Master Clay, I dont need to know how
old your father was. Now tell me, why did you
want a lemonade stand? You dont need the
Father said it would be good practice.
Practice. For what?
Using people to make money. Father says you
should always use people to get what you want.
That sounds like the cause of our present
day problem, Master Clay. Our math teacher, Mr.
Wood, says you were running a Ponzi scheme on
And two staff members as well, doctor.
And how did running the lemonade stand
We charged $3 for a small cup. Father said
the people in Oak Park couldnt resist a
small boys pleas. I held a sign with a
picture of a yellow pitcher of lemonade and the
price, $3 next to it. People were meant to think
that a whole pitcher was $3, and then when they
asked for just a cup, I would oblige and ask for
$3. They were too embarrassed to admit they had
misinterpreted the cost and too wealthy to care.
Your father taught you this lesson at age
five? The psychologist was astonished at
the prodigy in his office and the depth of
depravity his father displayed in raising him
Father said it was time I put childish
things away. Im not sure what he meant at
the time, but I suppose it had something to do
with my proclivity to play, rather than work. He
said playing was for the waifs in the city.
Dr. Wilson, stunned for the moment, tried to
fathom why his mother didnt intervene.
What about your mother?
Oh, mother helped also. She wore a tight
sweater and short skirt in order to distract the
men while I pitched the lemonade, no pun intended.
She was particularly effective at whispering in
their ear, something I couldnt hear, but it
certainly made selling small cups of lemonade for
$3 quite easy.
The doctor shook his head and sighed. Im
sorry your childhood was cut short. But I dont
think its too late. Im going to speak
with your parents about this and see if we can
salvage some fun before its too late.
Mother and father may fight you on this one
doctor. I am really quite content with my life at
this point. I wouldnt want to trouble you.
Its no trouble, Master Clay. I can
assure you. As a doctor and therapist, it is my
duty to protect you from an unhealthy environment
and work with your family to rectify the problem
before its too late.
What problem, doctor?
Im afraid you display all the signs
of a narcissist and sociopathic personality
disorder. Unchecked, this could lead to more
serious consequences when you leave school.
I see. Will this require ongoing therapy?
Im going to recommend at least three
sessions a week, until we can work through the
major issues. At least until I know you arent
a danger to yourself or others.
I dont think Im a danger,
Thats what Im afraid of. You
can continue attending school and we can meet
here on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Im
also going to meet with your parents every
If thats what you recommend, doctor.
Can we start next week? Today is my birthday and
my parents are taking me out to the city tonight.
Then there was a knock on the door. The
headmistress and Clays parents asked to
come in. Dr. Wilson opened the door.
Come in. We were just finishing. Im
very optimistic that we can put together a plan,
a team approach, so that Clay can get a new
direction with love and support from you both.
Thank you doctor, said Charles.
Then well be on our way. Clayton has
a birthday party to attend in the city.
Come along Clayton, said Amber.
Its your special day. You only turn
seven once, you know.