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Who is the real wimp, Amy Chua or her husband?

In today’s New York Times, David Brooks makes a great point about Amy Chua’s wrong-headed parenting choices.

When the Tiger Mother starts chewing her cubs, the larger question is why doesn’t the father of the house step in to restore sanity? What sort of father today cedes all child-rearing authority to his wife?

“Extreme parenting” is tyranny and madness. Crushed under the regime of an Amy Chua, a smart child who is well-grounded and self-protective would run away from home.

Even in a happy household, it is every husband’s sacred obligation to protect his children from momentary mood swings of the motherly variety.

Just before dinner when everyone including the dog seems to need a stiff one, Mr. Henry will on rare occasions hear Mrs. Henry carping at Little Henry about some minor transgression normally involving a small sin of omission like not putting something away in its proper place.

In order to reestablish family harmony at these critical junctures, Mr. Henry steps into the breach. First he tells Little Henry to run upstairs and hide until dinner is ready. Then he suggest to Mrs. Henry that a little bite of hors d’oeuvres might hit the spot. Then – and this is key – he refuses to engage in a fight with her no matter what.

Once dinner has begun to work its magic and conversation begins to wander merrily, all will be well.

Pat-down, ma’am

In this Western ski village where the skies are not cloudy all day (sometimes there is snow, too), Mr. Henry has been having fun teasing his adored consort each time the ski-bum waiter addresses her as “ma’am.”

But today the little dude-boy addressed Mr. Henry as “sir” –  not once, but three times. Cheek!

Riding the ski lift chair, Mrs. Henry struck up conversation with a teen girl from a prairie state. “Because of my knee injury last year,” said Mrs. Henry, “this year we’re taking it easy and staying on the green runs.”

“Oh,” replied the precious young thing, “I think you’re doing real good. My granner and granpa can’t even get out the house anymore!”

Such kind words. Such generosity of spirit. Aren’t the holidays wonderful?

Somehow Mrs. Henry survived the holidays and her milestone birthday with her amour propre intact and, importantly, with her girlish figure intact, too. After much hand-wringing over the appropriate gift, Mr. Henry chose a camel-colored (“heather acorn”) cashmere cardigan from J. Crew. (Something to wear against the skin seemed to be the right choice.) Inside the sweater he hid a Michelin map of the Benelux countries – a promised trip to Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp. She loved it.

Mr. Henry finally decided what he wants for Christmas – a TSA uniform. Wearing it he can command Mrs. Henry to stand perfectly still for a pat-down. Federal regulations, ma’am.

Henry Agonistes

Thinking and re-thinking the problem of what to bestow upon Mrs. Henry in honor of her milestone birthday, Mr. Henry is beginning to suspect that he might be over-thinking.

But how would you know? What if he hasn’t given it enough thought already?

Taking under advisement the wise words of counsel generously sent by Owen, Klee, theDiva, Yossa, Jezebella and Glinda of Teeny Manolo, Mr. Henry made an interim decision and bought a beautiful hand-blown glass bowl from Sara Japanese Pottery on Lexington Avenue at 70th Street.

Since the bowl was a perfect receptacle for cranberry sauce, he jumped the birthday queue and presented it on Thanksgiving.

Success! (temporarily, at least) … She loves it.

However, a bowl is not an intimate gift. It can’t be worn against the skin, nor is it the treasured keepsake of a romantic moment. The search continues.

Trimming your tree

Now that Thanksgiving is safely behind us, isn’t it time to think of trimming the tree?

Here’s Gene Tierney to lend a hand.

That special thing for her

A milestone birthday is imminent for Mrs. Henry. At her last milestone, Mr. Henry conspired with 80 people to throw her a surprise party. It was successful, that is, Mrs. Henry arrived in baggy sweatpants and torn T-shirt. But the enormous effort, secrecy, lies, whispers, lies and more lies were not worth the pay-off.

From this experience Mr. Henry learned the bitter life lesson that, while it may be possible to cheat on your wife, the effort required to get away scot-free is honestly too great.

This time he intends to buy her a special gift, a cherished memento of the day, something particularly suitable to her taste (like Shari’s Berries), her sense of self, and our matrimonially-entwined budget. It cannot be a promise of a trip to Bruges, a renovation to the bathroom, or even a week at the Chiang Mai Four Seasons Hotel which no mere mortal can afford.

It must be a thing wrapped up in a pretty box presented lovingly at the birthday dinner. But what? Failure looks inevitable.

Things not to get your sweetie:

1. Scanty panties. They convey expectations of limitless pleasure – but not necessarily for her.

2. Diamonds. They convey the wrong impression about the appropriate use of one’s limited means and, by the way, they are horrible investment vehicles.

3. Power tools. They convey imputations of hard work left undone.

4. Promises such as:

a.     trips abroad
b.     home renovations
c.     weight loss diets
d.     cello lessons

Mr. Henry needs help soon. He entreats your suggestions.

Julie London

Men, to start your weekend early, sometime around Wednesday morning, take a listen to the smoky voice of Julie London, one woman who had both figure and face – and a sultry sound.