Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Interpersonal School Dilemma

Back story:

Last year, Kelly had a little boy in her class, let's call him Tony. I wrote about him a few times. He was the one who, on the first field trip that I drove, taught Nate that "There's an F word, and there's an M word, and you can SAY the M word and not get in trouble but you'll get in trouble if you say the F word, and if you say the M word AND the F word? Then you get in REAL trouble..." Yeah. Great conversationalist. Oh, and his conversation is peppered with "God this" and "Dam that" And trust me, he's no Christian fundamentalist conservator of beavers and their structures, either. He reminds me of Skip's friend Cole, back in the good old days of "I can feel the poo coming out". A little smaller, a little scrawny, a lot mouthy, willing to do crazy things for attention, whether it's good or bad attention.

I know his mother. She works at my favourite grocery store, so I see her quite a bit. She always seems semi-flustered and overwhelmed, so I usually try to say something quick and funny, and mention something good that I saw her son doing at school, should the topic arise, because I was in the class several times a week, and she just can't make it onto campus because of her work schedule.

Now the story:

Last night was Back to School night for Kelly's school. I was working at one of the Volunteer Sign-up tables. I talked to pretty much every parent that came through the doors. Usually there was a bit of a crowd, and sometimes a line-up. I brought Kelly with me, as Toni had volunteered to take Nate and Skip to Kung-Fu, where Cole was having a 'free introductory lesson' (read: 'we will give you a free lesson, and then do the hard-sell to try to get you to sign up for 10 months, or, if we're LUCKY, we'll snag you for the 3-year commitment'). Kelly was having a grand old time, helping out the volunteers, setting up the tables, distributing pens and high-lighters, and meeting her friends, when they'd show up with their parents. She was inside, she was outside, she was showing people where they could find the New Class Lists, so they could see who their new teacher was. She was being an all-around mini-me.

I was so proud.

I saw Tony and his mom come in, and I smiled from across the room and waved at her. I don't think anyone else did. She came over to say hi, and we made a little bit of small talk about how her summer had been. I grinned at Tony, "Have you seen who your teacher is yet?" I asked. He shook his head. I pointed towards the door, "Kelly is outside, and she'll show you where the lists are." And with that he scampered off, and his mom started filling out all his paperwork. Good grief, there's a lot of paperwork.

I lost track of her for a while, and kept signing folks up for various volunteer gigs.

A few minutes later, Tony's mom came back to my table, and stepped behind the table, Tony in tow.

"Tony would like to tell you something," she said in a low voice.

I was helping out a new Kindergarten parent, so I finished up there, and then turned back to Tony.

"He wants to tell you something about Kelly" she re-iterated. "It's important,"

My mom-radar kicked into gear. Was she hurt? Is everything OK?

I smiled at Tony, imagining that either Kelly was hurt, or he was going to confess his deep and undying love for her. He had that sort of look on his face.

He leaned in. "Kelly just said "Thank GAWD that Tony's not in my class!" and then she walked away from me. It hurt my feelings." He batted his lashes, and turned his sad little innocent doe-eyes up to me, looking for all the world like he'd just lost his best friend.

Hmm. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this story? Because I sure did.

I smiled sadly, trying to look very concerned, "Did Kelly actually say THOSE words to you, Tony? This is important."

"Yes. And it hurt my feelings."

"Wow. Those are some strong words. You know, Kelly knows that those words are never said in our house unless we are praying."

His mom cut in, "He just wanted you to know that he was hurt." And she turned Tony around, and walked away.

A few minutes later, Kelly pranced up to the table. "Hi mom. Are you getting lots of volunteers?"

"Honey, Tony and his mom were just here, and he said that you said something cruel to him. Did you and Tony talk at all outside?"

"Yes, mom. He asked about our class, and I said we had the same teacher."

Hmm. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Not ONLY did I think that the words my daughter were reported to have used were words that she wouldn't use, it turns out that THE KIDS ARE IN THE SAME CLASS.

He's a dirty rotten liar, and I want to kick him.

And now his mom thinks that my daughter is a "Mean Girl" tm, and I hate that.

It was all I could do this morning to not go prancing over to her and say "See? They're in the same class. Your lying little scoundrel has pulled another one."

But that would be being petty. I think I'll just key her car the next time I see it.

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