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The Effects of Psychotic Parents on Gifted Children

LYNN, high school student, 15-17
MOTHER and FATHER, LYNNís parents

SCENE: a typical suburban home

AT RISE: MOTHER and FATHER are frozen upstage, within a typical interior house set. LYNN is seated C, legs crossed, back straight, staring straight at the audience. She stays perfectly still for a moment, then slowly rises and points offstage. Stage emains unlit during the first part of her speech.

LYNN. Itís a hard job being gifted. You canít do anything half-assed. Everybody wants you to do your best. Everybody wants a part of you. Everybody thinks that if one of your achievements is less than stellar, you arenít trying hard enough. But you ow what?

(Spot LYNN.)

Everybody is wrong.

(Lights up on interior of LYNNís house. MOTHER and FATHER remain frozen.)

My parents are the epitome of everybody. My father, the sarcastic businessman who believes anything creative should be squelched. My mother, the typical suburban housewife whose biggest fears are confrontation and build-up on the no wax floo . I still remember the day it really hit the fan. My parents were having their weekly fight. Their fights are usually about me. Correction. Their fights are always about me. My grades, my hobbies, my future. They have my entire life planned out u il Iím about seventy-five. These plans do not include retirement. Obviously, someone with my potential must continue achieving and overachieving up until their very last moment.

(LYNN exits. MOTHER and FATHER begin going about their business, perhaps sweeping or reading the newspaper.)

MOTHER. Itís simply out of the question.


MOTHER. No daughter of mine is enrolling in karate classes.

FATHER. Theyíll be good for her. Theyíll help her with balance, concentration--

MOTHER. No! That is my final word on the matter.

FATHER. What makes you think youíre the one with all the deciding power? Last time I checked she was my daughter too!

MOTHER. Listen, Frank, I donít want to go through this again. I said okay to the piano lessons. I let her take tap, ballet, and jazz. I even let her go ahead with taking voice. But karate is pushing it.

FATHER. Strangely enough, none of those were my ideas....

MOTHER. I donít think itís so strange. You say you donít like anything that I say I do, just to be spiteful!

FATHER. In fact, if I remember correctly, I was completely against voice and piano!

MOTHER. Both of which will help her in her future career of course.

FATHER. Oh? Youíve already chosen her future career?

MOTHER. We have already chosen her future career.

FATHER. And what would that be, pray tell?

MOTHER. Sheís going to be a musical professor at Julliard.

FATHER. Ah! At Julliard, no less! And of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that you wanted to be a music teacher until you married me...

MOTHER. No. It doesnít.

(LYNN enters through door UC, wearing leg warmers and carrying a duffel bag.)

FATHER. Why, Lynn. How kind of you to arrive before midnight.

LYNN. Dad, you know that the dance studio is three miles away.

FATHER. As interesting as that is, Lynn...

LYNN. When you wonít let me drive, I have to either catch a ride with somebody or walk, and tonight I had to walk.

MOTHER. Frank, you should really let her drive.

LYNN. Cassie Stevens said she could drive me, but she left before I was ready.

FATHER. Lynn, thatís no excuse. You must be out of shape if it took you--
(looks at his watch)

--twenty minutes to walk three miles. Twenty minutes! Your soccer coach will have my head if you canít do a mile in under six minutes.

MOTHER. Frank, I think thatís a little excessive.

LYNN. Dad, soccer doesnít start for another month and a half.

FATHER. Youíd better be in shape by then...

LYNN. Or what?

MOTHER. Lynn, really...

LYNN. Really, what? I want to know how he thinks heís going to make me be Miss Athlete of the Year.

MOTHER. Lynn, that is enough.

FATHER. No, no, Margaret, let her continue.

LYNN. Thatís all.

FATHER.(condescending) I had hoped that you would elucidate.

LYNN. Too bad.

MOTHER. Lynn, you are being extremely rude. Apologize to your father.

LYNN. I wonít! I want to know what heíll do if I say Iím not going to play soccer this year!


LYNN. What? It isnít like Iíve committed a sin...

FATHER. I believe weíve been over this before, Lynn. You know that it would be a crime to waste your potential.

LYNN. See Mom? Not a sin, just a crime...

FATHER. With all your talents--

LYNN. Iím sick of hearing about my talents! Who cares about all my potential? I donít!

MOTHER. Lynn, you have a gift. You should share it.

LYNN. And I donít have a gift!

FATHER. What would you call it, then, pray tell?


LYNN. I call it a curse.

(MOTHER and FATHER laugh.)

LYNN. Stop laughing at me!

FATHER. Donít you think youíre being a little dramatic?

LYNN. Iím being dramatic? Dad, do you ever listen to the things that come out of your mouth? ďLynn, you should be able to run a mile in under six minutes. Lynn, that last painting was a little weak. Lynn, you lost half a point on your st spelling test because your teacher couldnít read your handwriting. Maybe we should get you a tutor.Ē

FATHER. I have never said a word to you about getting a tutor.

LYNN. But you thought about it! You and Mom even discussed it!

MOTHER. What are you talking about?

LYNN. Please, donít bother lying to me. I heard you.

FATHER. Ah, the heroic teenager. She walks three miles, rebels against her parents, and still has the energy to eavesdrop!

MOTHER. Dear...

FATHER. To hell with Julliard! Weíve got ourselves a little Communist spy all cut out right here!

MOTHER. Frank.

FATHER. All this time weíve spent with voice and piano, trying to train her for a career in music, when all we had to do was read her a book on Benedict Arnold...

MOTHER. You didnít even want her to be a music professor!

FATHER. Youíre right; I was looking forward to being the father of the first teenage girl to commit treason...

LYNN. Dad, stop it! Youíre getting crazier every second. I just said I donít want to play soccer! Thatís all! That doesnít make me a traitor to my country...

FATHER. Then what does, pray tell?

MOTHER. Frank, I think you may be overreacting...

LYNN. And Mother! Youíre even worse than he is! Of course heís overreacting. I told him I might not want to play soccer and here he is accusing me of being a Communist! You married an insane man.

MOTHER. Lynn, Iíve had about enough of this. Your father is not insane and you are going to play soccer this year.

FATHER. Thank you.

MOTHER. Iím not finished. I think that you need to let up a little on your daughter.

FATHER. Somebody has to make sure she lives up to her potential.

LYNN. Just leave my potential out of this!

MOTHER. Well, it isnít going to be you.

FATHER. Then who will do it, pray tell?

MOTHER. And, for Godís sakes, will you stop saying ďpray tellĒ?

(A silence of four to five seconds.)

FATHER. I donít need to take this. Iím leaving.

(FATHER exits UC through door.)

LYNN. Maybe you shouldnít have done that.

MOTHER. Done what? Defend you? Try to keep your father from running your life?

LYNN. No, no, that was all fine.

MOTHER. Well, what then?

LYNN. Well... you know how much he loves to say ďpray tellĒ. Maybe you shouldnít have told him not to.

MOTHER. Lynn, sometimes you just amaze me. Amaze and disgust me.

(MOTHER stomps off L.)

(LYNN looks around in bewilderment. She turns to the audience.)

LYNN. I guess the only way to explain it is that my parents are weird. Thatís the best I can do.

(LYNN exits R.)

(Lights down.)

VOICE. This segment of the ABC Afterschool Special is sponsored by Prozac. And now, back to ďThe Effects of Psychotic Parents on Gifted ChildrenĒ.