An open letter to five-year-olds.

Listen up, jerks. You may think your place in the household is secure, but your parents have had it with you, and are seriously considering some drastic changes. Like maybe a move to a Preschooler-Free Household. Yeah, that's right. One of these mornings you might just find your Thomas Suitcase all packed up on the doorstep. Your parents will tell you there's an AWESOME SURPRISE waiting for you outside, and once you're out there, oopsie, the door locked behind you! And why aren't they answering the door? And what's that cab pulling up the driveway?

Oh, don't give me that look, with the big wet eyes. All right, probably they won't do that. Or definitely. Definitely they won't do that. Okay? Pull yourself together. But sometimes they dream of it, and do you want them thinking of you like that? No, right? You're staring at me blankly, so either you agree or you don't understand a word I'm saying. While I have your attention, here are some behaviors you might want to avoid in the future:

1. Whining. Bad idea, short stuff. I don't know when you first learned the super-smartastic lesson that making a sound like the air being slowly let out of a balloon will cause your parents to finally see your point. In fact, all they can hear is EEEEEEEE. All they can think is "Where's that suitcase of his?"

2. Talking. As in, that much. Yes you're witty and brilliant and yes your parents sometimes enjoy hearing of your Lego Batman Adventures in Prehistoric Space, but the occasional pause would serve you well. For instance, when your mom is calling the bank and she gets one of those automated voice-activated menus. The kind that respond to YES and NO, not MOM HEY MOM LISTEN HOW BATMAN EXCAPED THE ROBOTRONIC DINO-RAPTOR.

3. Behaving in a nutty fashion. News flash: sometimes your parents think you're a complete loon. Like when you're tired but instead of sitting quietly or GOING TO BED LIKE YOU CLEARLY NEED TO, you leap from room to room, alternately wailing piteously and cackling with mirth. Then when your parents sensibly try to direct you upstairs you engage in multiple wacky pratfalls until you finally injure yourself. And blame your parents for your injuries.

4. Baby talk. There was a time when you talked like a baby, and you're not in that time anymore. You can't fake it. It's not charming when you try. You like to combine it with the whining. No one else likes it. See how your mom is shuddering? Okay. Let's move on.

5. "Again!" Here's the thing: if something happens that was fun, we get that you enjoyed it. And that you wish you could freeze that moment in time and replay it as many times as you want. Unfortunately, you cannot. So when your mom hangs you upside-down by the feet and you're greatly amused, and you ask for it again, maybe she can do it one or two more times. But after the fifth time, her spine begins to give out. And when you're issuing threats and caterwauling because you can't do that fun upside-down thing a 37th time, you've pretty much sapped the fun out of the experience, and also caused your parents to think twice about ever engaging with you, in any way, until the end of time. Let it go.

There are 17 other behaviors we need to address, but this is a good beginning for now. If you make an honest attempt to improve yourself in the ways I've outlined above, your place in the home might remain secure. Of course I can't promise anything. And no, you can't have a cookie. No, I said. Not now. No. No. Okay, just one.