— a famously childless songwriter once wrote. But how right, as usual, Stephen Sondheim was. I for one can vouch for the verity of this double-edged truism, as I hear myself repeating hoary exhortations to my young boys I never imagined I’d say, and am often brought up short by the seemingly inverse relationship between the words I think I need them to hear, to which they appear selectively oblivious, and the verbal arrows I throw offhandedly or in the heat of anger, onto

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