Primo’s first-grade teacher is a dreamboat and I have succumbed to full-fledged love for her. She did – and this is a fact – hang the moon. I want to give this woman a Staples gift card worth $100K. When she leads the class out for dismissal, I want to scream in adulation like teenyboppers did at Beatles concerts in the 1960s. After a rocky year in Kindergarten, she has laid the groundwork for Primo to have a fantastic first grade, and for this I am eternally grateful. She somehow manages to be warm and friendly and fun while demanding respect and lawfulness in the classroom She doesn’t abide no fools and she makes those kids work hard but she also showers them with compliments when they deliver, and then rewards them for their hard work. She celebrates the kids for who they are. And her hair is preternaturally bouncy. She is (sigh) just dreamy.
Of course all of these attributes would be meaningless to me if she didn’t understand how cool my kid is. But she does, she gets it. So parent-teacher conferences were great because it was essentially like me winning 15 minutes with my favorite rock star, to talk about my favorite subject ever. But in the middle of the conference, it almost all went terribly wrong.
The kids are writing stories about small moments in their lives, and Jennifer was reading some of the stories Primo’s been writing. If I was helping Primo brainstorm possible subjects, the list would include: “Going for a midnight dip on Ferragosto,” “Getting caught in a big rainstorm,” “Having a tea party with cousins.” Instead, for his first story, he chose to write about how Sec pretended she was going to fall off the balcony. I found this choice of subject matter strange for a number of reasons but mostly because it was a highly uneventful moment – Sec basically just sat on the balcony and said to him, “I’m going to say. ”Oh no! I’m going to fall off the balcony!” and you say “No! Don’t!” OK? OK?” Then I told them that was a lousy game and they should stop. But he told the story somewhat differently:
“One day Sec almst Fel! Off! The! Balkany!” it begins. His illustrations show me, eyebrows angled down like an arch-villain, shouting “NO!” and Primo yelling “STOP!” It is a very gripping story.
As Jennifer reads it aloud to us, I really want to explain that this isn’t what happened so she knows that I am not the sort of mom which would be too busy to notice her child almost falling off the balcony, but then I think that’ll sound like I’m protesting too much and anyway, she must know that the kids take poetic license with these “true” stories.
Then we move on to another story he has written about when he was little in Italy and fell in a piazza and scraped his face.
“One day I wos litl and I wos rning in the peaza and oh no! I fll! Dere was blod! Mamy gav me a banddad.”
Jennifer read this and David and I were smiling, so proud, so delighted. Then her voice halted suddenly and we looked at the words she was supposed to read next.
“Fac you Mamy!”
I gasped. David choked. Jennifer said, “Oh!” stuttering to recover, “oh, I don’t think that says what we think it says.”
And I say, “Because it looks like Fuck you Mommy!”
“Yeah, I don’t know what it is . . . “
Instantly, I am cursing myself for cursing so much at home, thinking that finally, my trucker mouth has rubbed off on that sweet child, imagining the days of detention ahead, when David exclaims:
“No! It’s supposed to be a “th”! He gets “Th” and “F” confused! It’s “Thank you Mommy!”
Huge communal sigh of relief. We all laugh. Then Jennifer jokes. “That’s a good thing, because between his sister almost falling off the balcony and Fuck You Mommy, I was starting to worry.”
Yeah, she’s funny, too. Sigh. For Christmas, I’m thinking about buying her a pony.