The teacher glanced at the father across the desk from her and sighed. The conference was not going as smoothly as the other ones that evening. She wondered why the most controversial one had to come last at the end of the night when all she wanted to do was kick off her shoes and enjoy a glass of wine. By now most of her colleagues were already done and going home, but the man kept pushing.

Miss Henderson saw where the problem was, but she wasn’t going to be that impolite. The father was mirroring a lot of the problem behaviors that she had noted on his son’s report card, especially his dismissive attitude towards women. The young Kevin was particularly pushy with the girls in the class, and had once even called Miss Henderson a ‘bitch’. His father had yet to go that far, but it was clear that he thought that he was better than her.

Glancing at the clock on the wall she sighed, “Mister Jacobs, perhaps we can schedule a meeting with the Principal for next week. It’s clear that we’re not on the same page, I’ve highlighted what Kevin’s behavioral issues are and you don’t seem to agree. A third party might help with the deadlock.”

The man caught her glance at the clock, “Oh am I keeping you from something?”

The teacher shook her head, “No, but we haven’t made any progress I just think that…”

He cut her off, “You think? I thought you were supposed to be an expert. That’s the trouble these days, there’s no discipline in schools even the teachers are passive. In my day the teachers were in charge and we knew better than to argue with them.”

“Well Mister Jacobs we like to take a more open and non-confrontational approach these days. Working with our students to help them learn how to negotiate and…” she was again cut off.

“Bullshit. Look it’s clear that you aren’t strong enough to teach my son. He needs someone less submissive and weak,” the father said.

Miss Henderson felt her face turn red with anger, she took a deep breath to relax before saying something she regretted, “I don’t think that…”

“You don’t think,” the man repeated, cutting her off.

Miss Henderson took another breath, getting more annoyed, “I don’t think…”

Again she was cut off.

“You don’t think,” he said firmly.

Trying again to get her point across the young teacher said, “I don’t think…”

“You don’t think.”

She opened her mouth to start again but this time he spoke even before she had started.

“You don’t think.”


“You don’t think.”

“I don’t…”

“You don’t think.”

Miss Henderson sat there, not sure what to do unable to finish a thought. The man smirked at her, and repeated again, “You don’t think. Say it.”

“I don’t think.” 


“I don’t think.”

She felt weird, having her words twisted on her and then repeated again and again was making it hard to move forward in the conversation and with her train of thought. She was tired and wanted to go home.

The father smiled, “You don’t think because you’re weak and submissive.”

“I don’t think because I am weak and submissive,” the teacher repeated, not sure why but it felt natural to keep repeating. She’d already been coaxed into agreeing with his central premise that she didn’t think so the next step was natural.

“You need a strong man to tell you what to do,” he said.

“I need a strong man to tell me what to do,” she said repeating. It felt natural to not think and just repeat. The father seemed to know what she needed, seemed so confident and firm. It was easier to agree than to argue.

“I am a strong man.”

“You are a strong man,” she said agreeing. So strong and firm.

“You need me to tell you what to do.”

“I need you to tell me what to do.”

He father grinned, his son’s grades would be improving soon.