Jenny joins Rufus at breakfast wearing a disastrous dress that looks like Betsy Johnson fucked Laura Ingalls. "After that shower, there won't be any hot water left in the building," he says, but she admits she was just hiding from him until her backup arrived... as Vanessa walks into their house without so much as a knock on the door. "I got here as fast as I could!" she says breathlessly, because she literally has not one thing in her life that is not about nosing her way into the dazzling world of Humphriana. "...What's going on here?" Rufus asks uncertainly, and Little J reminds him that Vanessa is applying for NYU next fall. (Thanks, if you'll remember, to Nate Archibald, who dissuaded her from her original plan of homelessness and dumpster-diving, but could not get her to enter an actual high school or become even slightly a better person before dumping her for being essentially exactly what she is.)
"Something you wouldn't be able to do without finishing high school," Rufus reminds them, and explains that homeschooling is the result of parental failure even by his sickening standards. "Living as an adult when you're a teenager is not something any parent wants for their child," he says, which Jenny again contradicts this by virtue of the fact that she is herself a person with a vested interest in her life. Rufus trumps her with the "you're underage" card, and Vanessa calls it "Plan B." The two lovely ladies sit down across the breakfast table and stare menacingly at him, and Jenny offers him the deal: Spend the day at the atelier watching her rock out, and then decide if child labor is right for her. If he still rules in favor of Constance, she'll go peaceably and fold her dreams up and stick them on the shelf, just like her father and Lily before her. "Jenny, I've seen all your designs. Heard about your internship all summer long. What more is there?" Um, everything? Eleanor is moving Jenny into being a commodity in such a sneaky way she doesn't even know she's doing it, and Jenny is becoming the new Kira Plastinina, and her Dad needs to understand that. He agrees, they toast on it with OJ, she gleams and squeals and ankle-dips herself into a coma even though it's obvious he'll be damned if this changes anything -- but at least it will shut her up.
Now, coming from an unorthodox background that is more like Jenny's than anybody else's, I am less interested in the freewheeling freakout cautionary tale that is obviously coming down the pike, because I think there are an infinite number of ways to become an adult and that generally the only person with any kind of authority over those choices -- the young person herself -- is also the only person lacking the common sense to make a good decision, and that's hilarious because it's universal, and it's how each and every one of us has arrived at the points at which we find ourselves today. We've all done the teenage hustling in one way or another, and I don't think it's worth pointing fingers or comparing scars on that note when you realize that you can't change one damn thing about your history except how much you love and respect it. I mean, I'm not going to tell you my shit, but it hits home in such a fundamental way that I don't really find much of interest talking about it now, because frankly at thirty I'm still hoeing rows I planted at her age, and happy to do so, not least because part of that is these little conversations we get to have, you and I.