Morning falls as they are driving in the RV. "So, PJ," Pete said, "Learn anything interesting from Max last night?"

"Oh, uhh…" PJ said, "Nothing really, sir."

"So Max didn't tell you he found some gold or went to a zoo or changed the map his father set for him…" Pete said, looking deviously at him.

"You heard?" PJ asked. "I told Max. I told him you guys had that ability."

"Yeah, well, I told Goof that Max did that," Pete responded. "So much for their buddy-buddy act." He smiled smugly while PJ looked on in horror.

"You… you're not happy enough making me miserable, you have to make other people miserable too and break families that are working!" PJ said.

"Working?" Pete asked. "The kid was walking all over his father."

"And the other way around is better? Taking advantage of someone you're supposed to be protecting? Hurting the person who should be able to look to you for comfort just because you can?" PJ asked.

"Shut up!" Pete said, pulling over the RV by a forest clearing and getting out. He dragged PJ out by the arm and motioned once again to his belt.

"Go ahead!" PJ said, "You know, I kept my end of the deal the entire time. But that doesn't matter to you." He looked downward, bracing himself.

"No," Pete said, shaking his head, "I won't beat you. Yet."

PJ gasped. "You were bluffing!" he shouted, "All this time I've been complying with you because of a threat you never planned to follow through on in the first place!"

"You should be happy all I do is make empty threats, okay?" Pete responded.

"I'm grateful you don't beat me up, Dad," PJ said. "I'm not grateful that you always manipulate me!"

"Do you think I want you to run around without discipline, PJ?" Pete asked.

"You call this discipline?" PJ responded. "Discipline is predictable. Discipline is related to wrongdoing and serves a larger purpose. Discipline won't send your son into fits of depression or make him feel worthless. Your kids won't live in fear of you."

"What are you saying?" Pete asked.

"I'm saying you're unstable!" PJ said. "I never know from one minute to the next what you're going to do to me, if anything, and the times you decide to go 'easy on me' or 'hard on me' are erratic and random. I can never tell when you're angry because your calling sounds the same no matter what. And, evidently, you can't tell the difference between discipline and child abuse."

"Abuse is kind of a strong word, isn't it?" Pete asked.

"No," PJ responded curtly. "It's an accurate one, Dad. Make no mistake, I'm used to the way you treat me. I'm so used to it I become surprised and suspicious when you do something differently. But being used to it doesn't mean I like it. I hate it. It eats me up inside every day."

"Will you stop demanding to be babied already? You're a big boy now! You don't need daddy to coddle you anymore!" Pete shouted.

"I just want to know that you love me," PJ said. "It doesn't matter how old I am, Dad. If I grow up believing you don't, I'll be scarred in the end just the same." PJ was about to cry, but Pete turned to him.

I Don't Mean It (Bolded parts sung by Pete, italicized parts sung by PJ)

Sometimes I seem like a tyrant
Who always wants to keep you down,
And sometimes I seem like a monster
Who only wants to see you frown,
And sometimes I seem like the father
Who is the worst in all of town
But I assure you, I don't mean it.

Sometimes I want to be closer
And then you just push me away
And sometimes I want to be alone
And then you just force me to stay
And sometimes I just want some respite
But you make me do things all day
Yet somehow I know, you don't mean it.

A father and son built on a ton
Of unstable rocks and uneven talks
Our commonalities stop at the veneer—
Our differences lie in the way that we try
To behave all our lives, but our kinship thrives
When we pull back the anger and fear

Sometimes I wish you were like me
Take it out on you that you're not
Sometimes I wish you were like me
With hope I'd be given a shot
Sometimes we wish we weren't living
with someone who hurts me a lot
or makes me have to say I don't mean it

A father and son built on a ton
Of unstable rocks and uneven talks
Our commonalities stop at the veneer—
Our differences lie in the way that we try
To behave all our lives, but our kinship thrives
When we pull back the anger and fear

Can we start to love again?
Maybe it's too late.
Maybe we're condemned to
disappointment and hate
But no matter what, I know you don't mean it.
And I assure you I don't mean it.

PJ spread his arms out to give Pete a hug, but Pete just shook his head and walked away. PJ followed Pete into the forest, whining "oh, Dad…"

"Do you want to know why I told Goof about what his kid did?" Pete asked.

"Please," PJ said calmly.

"I just wanted to be recognized," Pete said. "It seems like Goofy always gets complimented for his child-rearin', and well…"

"You just thought if you could prove Max wasn't a better kid than I was you would earn some of that recognition?" PJ asked.

"Yeah," Pete responded, "Like that."

"You know, Dad," PJ said, "It doesn't matter what anyone thinks. Anyone but me. Everyone could say you were the worst dad on the planet but what really matters is how good I think you are."

"You're saying you think I'm a good father?" Pete asked.

PJ gave him a dumbfounded look, shook his head, and said, "What I'm saying… is if you want to be… you just have to start putting your effort elsewhere." A large dark shadow appeared over PJ.

Pete began to panic. "P-P-P-PJ?"

"Look, Dad, I'm sorry, I know this touchy-feely stuff is hard for you, but you could stand to…" PJ began.

"BIGFOOT IS BACK!" Pete screamed. He leaped into PJ's arms causing both of them to crumple under his weight.

Bigfoot roared. PJ yelled, "Dad! I'll distract him! You get out of here!"

"Not without you!" Pete said. He grabbed a nearby stick and pushed it in Bigfoot's face. "Back, back, you disgusting beast!"

"Rirureee?" Bigfoot inquired and then he roared in Pete's face.

"Dad!" PJ shrieked. He pushed his father out of Bigfoot's way and was then immediately snatched by the collar. "Help!"

"My baby!" Pete screeched, chasing after Bigfoot. Bigfoot pushed a large boulder between him and Pete. "Oh, no!"

"Please don't eat me, Bigfoot," PJ said, cowering, "I'm not nearly as delicious as I look, I assure you."

Bigfoot picked him up and sniffed him. PJ grinned nervously. Bigfoot dropped him on the ground flat on his face. "Ow!" PJ uttered. Bigfoot raised his foot to stomp on him.

"Hey, size 900," Pete said, when he arrived in Bigfoot's clearing, "No one crushes my son under their weight except me." He then proceeded to hit Bigfoot in the stomach until he fell over. PJ looked on in silence wondering how to react.

Bigfoot looked at them and then ran away. "Thanks, Dad," PJ said, "You saved my life today."

"Now we're even," Pete said.

"Even for what?" PJ asked.

"You know," Pete said. He winked.

"If this is about that promise you broke or our fraudulent deal or the time you called me a worthless mistake, I've already forgi—" PJ began.

Pete interrupted him, "No. It's for all of them."

"Well, you know, Dad," PJ said, "I'm really happy that you took the time to apologize."

"Yeah, don't look too much into it, kid," Pete said. "You still have to do all your chores."

"I figured," PJ said, shrugging. "With you, I'll take what I can get."

That night, Pete handed PJ a bucket with a sponge. "Here," he said, "I accidentally spilled some maply syrup in front of the TV."

"Right away," PJ said, sighing.

"Wait, PJ," Pete said, "See if we can hear the last of the Powerline concert."

"But, Dad, that's on pay-per-view," PJ said.

"We'll just take it out of your child support, okay?" Pete asked.

"…Whatever you say, Dad," PJ said. "Just like this whole RV."

PJ listened intently to the music as he tried to scrub the sticky stain out of the floor. I-2-I, his biggest hit… PJ couldn't relate to any of Powerline's music, but he certainly did find it catchy.

Pete was reading a newspaper in another area and he mumbled, "You know, I wonder what Goofy did when he found out Max changed the map anyway." He got up from his table, beer in hand. "I'll go make sure PJ's not slacking off."

PJ, still trying to scrub the stain, looked up to the TV and was pleasantly surprised to see Max and Goofy dancing along with Powerline. Pete was caught so off-guard he spat a mouthful of beer onto the TV.

PJ looked at his father in surprise. As the beer dripped down the TV screen, Pete said monotonously, "Clean up that mess."

"Yes, sir," PJ said.

"And if you damage the screen, I'll give you a beating!" Pete bellowed.

"No you won't!" PJ responded.

"You don't know that, PJ," Pete said.

"Yes," PJ said, "You'll just yell at me, say I can't do anything right and that you wish I'd never been born, ground me for five months, and refuse to talk to me for three weeks then insult me non-stop for the rest, and force me to do some menial job that someone else pays something for and take all the money to pay for a new one."

"I can't believe you think I'm so soft," Pete said.

"I can't believe you think I'm so gullible," PJ responded. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

"Whatever," Pete said, "Is that punishment sufficiently 'scary' anyway?"

"Of course, Dad," PJ said. "I'll make sure not to damage the screen."

Pete and PJ arrived home. "Oh, yes!" PJ said, getting out of the RV, "I survived the whole ordeal! And the best part is there is no way Roxanne is going to reject Max now!"

"Wait, wait, wait," Pete asked, "All this time it was about a girl?"

"Yeah, what did you think it was about?" PJ asked.

"Well, given the amount of encouragement you've been giving him, I was expecting it to be, you know, kind of sort of in your best interest," Pete said.

"Wait, how is Max getting a girlfriend not in my best interest?" PJ asked. "I'm his best friend."

"Exactly," Pete responded. "As in, 'that guy who gets in the way.' And what are you thinking, PJ? Helping your best friend get a girl while you're still pathetically dateless?"

"What's wrong with that, Dad?" PJ asked. "You want Max's dad to have married Mom?"

"Okay, that was just too far," Pete said angrily.

"All I'm saying is Max deserves to be with the one he loves," PJ said, shrugging. "Besides, Roxanne's not my type."

"Why not?" Pete asked, giving him a suspicious look.

"To be honest," PJ said, "I think she's kind of boring. But Max likes her, so more power to him!"

"Oh, as long as it's because of her personality, then I suppose it's fine," Pete said. He sighed in relief.

"What?" PJ asked.

"Nothing," Pete responded. "But PJ, if Max spends all summer with his girlfriend, when will he have time to spend time with you?"

"You know," PJ said, "I didn't actually think about that."

"That's okay," Pete said, "You'll have plenty of time to do the chores that have been piling up in the house."

"Perfect," PJ said. "Maybe Bobby and I can…"

Bobby rode by on his skateboard. "Du-ude! You're back! You missed an awesome party!"

"Yeah," PJ said, "But I did see Max on TV."

"Yeah!" Bobby said, "But the best part is I have a girlfriend now! Me and Stacey are together!"

"Oh," PJ said. "So you have a girlfriend too."

"PJ, they're stealin' all of 'em," Pete said, "You better hurry up and snag one."

"Nah," PJ said, "I haven't met the love of my life yet anyway."

"PJ, you have to date. Otherwise you're a dateless loser," Pete said.

"Dad," PJ said. He sighed and chanted repeatedly, "I know you don't mean it. I know you don't mean it. I know you don't mean it," as he went back into his house.