“What is your son’s name.” I stared at him. “How long have you lived here?” Crickets. Mind you, he was supposed to be completing some work for my class that he said was all in his head after school. During class, I told him I wanted to get the words out. It would hurt to get them. I’ll call mom. “No, Mrs. Johnson. Don’t do that.” Okay, how about tomorrow? “Sure thing. Tomorrow.” Nah. I called his mom ten minutes before school let out just to show him that I could. And I would. Call his mom. Even with less than ten days of school left.
My punishment was to endure grilling by a thirteen year old. He observed that my mood could quickly change and wanted to give me his descriptive word. Something in my eyes gave him pause. “The word you want is ‘mercurial,'” I smiled in a rather sharklike manner–all teeth. He worked as slowly as molasses in a blue northern blizzard. I kept my eyeballs from rolling as he feigned helplessness to get his work completed. This kid is smart as a whip, and he frustrates my good intentions to make him behave properly. I think he accidentally saw the journal of motherly advice I have been writing to him. I won’t let him read it (if he does) until after the school year is over. It was left in my reading lab class after his schedule changed for a few weeks. I began writing in it periodocially just to advise him about things like self-esteem, his potential, taking care of himself by sleeping proper hours, etc. I know I am not cool in his mind; yet, I know in my heart that he does like me. Nah, he loves me. I sound like his mom when I get on his case, yet he is too stubborn to tell me he cares. I might get too much satisfaction out of it and embarrass him by crying (or gloating that I told you so! about the silly stunts you’ve pulled) all at the same time. He may be right that I softened towards him six months ago. He may move away one day, he may forget his battle of the wills with a crazy teacher who loved him like a son, but he will always be my one and only Papi.
P. S. That dust in this room is really making my eyes water.