She: Junior. High. School. Parents. Open. House.

Z: Breathe.

She: Child. Growing. Older.

Z: Breathe. It’s OK. Use this paper bag. It’s not that big a deal.

She: You don’t understand. Our child is going to go to junior high school next year.

Z: Next year. I think we still have some time left. It might be a little early to plan the wedding and the baby showers.

She: He’s going to leave the protective cocoon of his sweet little elementary school, and sail off to abandonment on the island of adolescence.

Z: Drama much?

She: He’s getting older. He needs to stop.

Z: Time moves on. He’s going to get older. I don’t think your plan of buying shoes that are too small for him has kept him any younger.

She: You’re making fun of me. Let me put this into terms that you might understand: our child is going to junior high school next year. That means that this may be the last year that we can write about him in our column without him bursting out in acne and running away from home.

Z: Junior. High. School. Parents. Open. House.

She: Here’s your paper bag back, Mr. Time Moves On.

Z: Do you seriously think that he might start to get annoyed with what we write about him?

She: I’m amazed he hasn’t already tried to sue us.

Z: I think we’re generally very nice to him. In print.

She: Really, a child could have no nicer parents.

Z: We feed him and give him shelter. I’m pretty sure he owes us a steady stream of material until he’s at least 18.

She: And I think we’re about to move into some really good stuff. The teenage years have made many a writer’s career.

Z: And he might cut us off? That’s brutal. No more allowance.

She: Maybe we could fictionalize him. Puberty offers such a delicious wealth of material.

Z: I know. Voice changes, sweaty armpits, zits, hair in places there never was hair before.

She: It’s a comic goldmine. I say when he hits 12 we start using quotation marks and an alias.

Z: If we start talking about our son “Archie,” Koss might get a little suspicious.

She: And confused.

Z: Maybe we could write about our daughter, “Archina.”

She: Very, very confused. We might have to change our names, too. That way we could tell all without really telling all.

Z: I don’t think that would work.

She: It might. He’ll be distracted with all of that texting and homework and extra body hair.

Z: And we could tell him to stop reading. Reading is bad for you. I think that’s the message we need to give him.

She: That won’t work, but maybe writing about him could be used as a way to keep him in line.

Z: What do you mean?

She: We can threaten him with comedic revenge if he does anything we don’t want him to.

Z: Twisted. I like it.

She: Thank you. Although, then we’d be hoping not to have anything to write about. Right?

Z: I guess so. I mean, yes, of course. We don’t want him to do bad stuff just so we can make fun of it. Right?

She: Then we’re completely on the same page about this one. We don’t write about Koss anymore when he asks us not to, unless he does something really bad and potentially embarrassing.

Z: So that’s the stick. Is there a carrot?

She: I read somewhere that Susan Cheever used to bribe her kids to let her write stories about them.

Z: Unfortunately, Koss … I mean, “Archie” has more money than we do.

She: Then it’s settled. I don’t know when they give out parenting of the year awards, but we should definitely sign up for that.

Z: Yes, dear.

— When She and Z aren’t plotting their middle school survival strategy, they can be reached at