Parent-teacher conferences are terrifying. Not that I’m worried our children are failing at life. That’s my job. I’m simply concerned one day a teacher will tell us the kids are smarter than me.

What all parents really want is to know more than our children. This is not as awful as everyone I’ve told seems to think. Look, if our kids can survive on their own, they’ll never come home to visit, so I plan on teaching them nothing. If they never learn to drive, they can’t get away. This fits perfectly into my wife’s plan to keep our children in our house until they’re 40, probably in the same room on bunk beds so she can watch them while they sleep.

Not creepy at all. Nope.

However, I probably shouldn’t have told this to our children’s teachers. My wife and I are now banned from all school activities and legally can’t get within 100 feet of our own kids. It makes family vacations a bit awkward.

One of the biggest fears I have at parent-teacher conferences is that the teachers aren’t confused and are actually talking about the pubescent sass machines who live in our house instead of someone else’s kids.

Teacher: “Oh, your child is a blessing to have in class. So thoughtful, so caring and hasn’t set fire to the building once.”

Me: “Really? That doesn’t sound like an Offutt.”

Teacher: “I wish more students were like him.”

My wife: “But he took laxative brownies to the church potluck dinner, tied his grandmother’s shoelaces together and lit fireworks in his sister’s hair.”

Me: “That’s right. Do you have the county jail on speed-dial, because we do.”

It’s like once our offspring leave the house, they turn into someone else. I’ve seen that movie and it doesn’t end well. People start behaving differently; they’re more polite, happier, punctual. Then the heroes discover too late that sentient alien plants have grown duplicate townspeople in big green pods and taken over the city.

What I want to know is why can’t our real children go to school while the alien pod children stay home and clean their rooms? This would make vacuuming so much easier and I could go to a parent-teacher conference without feeling like one of those TV sit-com dads who’s in no way as smart as his kids.

But it’s not like this. Teachers, administrators, parents of friends, strangers in dark alleys, the FBI special agent who sits outside our house in an unmarked car all think our children are nice and don’t act like the hooligans we know them to be.

Someday I want to hear a teacher tell us once, just once, “Offutt, your kids are out of control. They’re psychotic monsters.”

It would make me feel like we’ve accomplished something as parents – we’ve raised normal kids.

Jason’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at