- Bobbie: aged 5
- Arlene: his mother
- Peter: his father
- Violet: his grandmother,
- Young guests from Bobbie's kindergarten.
Everyone is seated around the table wearing party hats, eating cookies and ice-cream. There is a lot of laughter and noise. Wrapping paper from birthday gifts is all over the floor. The birthday cake is brought in with five candles and Bobbie blows them out while everyone sings: "Happy birthday." As his mother cuts the cake, Bobbie is jumping up and down on his chair, calling out: "Me first! Me first!"
Arlene: Alright. You're the birthday boy, so you get the first piece,
Bobbie grabs a slice, jumps down from his chair with his mouth full, pulling his father's arm.
Bobbie: Let's go play games in the yard.
Violet: Bobbie, wait a minute. The other children haven't received their cake yet.
Arlene: O.K. kids. Everybody give me your plates for a piece of cake. Bobbie, you pass around the candy in the meantime.
Bobbie leaves the table to play with his gifts instead. The children eat their cake. Violet passes out the bags of candy and then Peter takes all the children outside for games in the garden.
Arlene: Well, thank goodness that's over. It was a nice party, wasn't it?
Violet: Bobbie certainly seemed to enjoy himself. But .
Arlene (sighing): What was wrong?
Violet: Bobbie doesn't mean any harm, but he is wild.
Arlene: Mother, he's a child.
Violet: Look at the way he was jumping up and down calling out "Me first!" What kind of behavior is that?
Arlene (defensively): He's only five and he was excited.
Violet: Only five. You made the same excuse when he was "only four" and "only three". Will you still be doing it when he's "only twenty?"
Arlene: He has a lovely nature. You're always putting him down.
Violet: I love him. But I think he has to learn limits.
Arlene: What's so terrible about his behavior?
Violet: Look at how he grabbed his presents when his friends came. He tore off all the paper, and left it on the floor. He's always making such a mess.
Arlene: Mom, you're just getting older and can't take the noise and mess anymore.
Violet: And I didn't even hear him say "Thank you."
Arlene: I'm sure he did.
Violet: When you were young, I taught you to say " Thank you" for every gift you got.
Arlene: That's your English upbringing.
Violet: It's learning to be appreciative, not acting like an animal.
Arlene: There's nothing wrong with Bobbie's manners. He's a normal five-year-old boy. You expect too much from him.
Violet: And you expect too little. He should pick up any mess he makes. It won't hurt if he learns to say "please" and "Thank you." You don't want him to grow up into a thoughtless man.
Arlene: Mom, why do you always have to spoil everything? Nothing I do is ever good enough.
Violet: I never felt that. I'm only trying to express my views on child raising, to teach you from my experience.
Arlene: It's my job to bring up my own child. Things are different today from 30 years ago. Peter and I will set our own guidelines for discipline.
Violet: When will that be? When he's married?
Arlene (crying): You're an unloving, critical woman. You made my childhood miserable, but you're not going to spoil Bobbie's.
Violet: I think I should go home now. I think that one day you'll remember my advice. But it might be too late. (She exits, slamming the door.)