started a new story series on my blog that
began with a rather amusing but improbable imagining of me as a husband and
father. So I’ve decided to start posting them here three (or in this case, two) at a time…
#22 – “Set the Tone”
Pierpont has only been in fourth grade for a WEEK (or so)
and I’ve already gotten called into his Principal’s office. After last school
year’s “faggot” incident, these people are going to really start
questioning mine and Bradley’s parenting skills.
Though I usually drop in randomly for a visit to Pierpont’s teacher to track
his progress and make sure he’s behaving even when he doesn’t know I’m around,
I’ve never had to do it so early in the school year. I usually allow about
three to four weeks for him and the teacher to get used to each other. This
year, since Pierpont is getting older, I thought about easing up on that a bit,
but apparently I cannot.
“Welcome back, Mr. Moss,” Sally, the clear secretarial lifer, said to me as I
walked into the office.
“And the same to you,” I replied as I looked around and paused. “Someone’s
“Delissa,” Sally said. “Budget cuts.”
“Apparently. Because Bradley and I were sent a laundry list of school supplies for Pierpont plus an added request to
donate additional supplies for those families who couldn’t afford them.”
“Mr. Collins just sent me an instant message that he will see you now, Mr.
Moss,” Michelle, the younger of the two remaining secretaries, said to me from
her desk. I miss the days of buzzers.
“Thanks, Michelle,” I replied. I waved goodbye to Gary, the lone male
secretary, and walked into the unfortunately now-familiar territory of Mr. Collin’s
As soon as I saw Pierpont, I put on my “stern parent” face by raising an
eyebrow. It’s my signal to him that it’s time to be serious – and it gives Mr.
Collins the impression that I’m an involved, engaged and responsible parent.
“Happy new school year,” I said to Mr. Collins, reaching out for a handshake.
Mr. Collins returned the handshake. “Thank you for coming in, Mr. Moss. Please
“Thank you for inviting me,” I joked to break the tension as I sat down, but
Mr. Collins was not amused.
“Mr. Moss, I called you in because Pierpont was in a physical scuffle this
“What we’ve gathered from witnesses is that Pierpont approached a classmate and
punched him in the stomach.”
I looked over at Pierpont. “Why?”
“Daddy told me to.”
“What do you mean, ‘Daddy told you to?’”
Pierpont shrugged. “Daddy told me to.”
“That’s what he kept telling us,” Mr. Collins said. “We were hoping having you
here would lead us closer to something resembling the truth.”
“I’m not sure this is entirely far from the truth,” I replied. “So let me talk
to his other father. In the meantime, and I suppose the rules dictate he be
sent home with me or taken into police custody or sent directly to juvie, but
can he just go back to class with the guarantee that this will be the last time
you see him in this office this school year or I’ll personally escort him to
“Fair enough,” Mr. Collins answered.
“Pierpont, I’ll pick you up after school. The rest of your day had better be
incident-free until then.”
“Now go back to class,” I told him, kissing my hand and placing it on the top
of his head.
I watched Pierpont leave and then turned around to shake Mr. Collin’s hand. “At
least we got this out of the way early. Same time, next year?”
I walked into Bradley’s office with a purpose and approached
the receptionist at the desk. She wasn’t their regular receptionist, but
somehow looked familiar, though I didn’t know why. “Terrence Moss for Bradley
Hollinger,” I said to her.
“Is he expecting you?”
“I’m his husband. He should always be expecting me,” I said, almost cheekily.
The receptionist picked up the phone. “Bradley, there’s a Terrence Moss here to
“Thanks, Andrine. Send him on in.”
Andrine hung up the phone and smiled at me. “Bradley will see you now. I assume
you know where his office is.”
“I do. Thank you,” I replied as I walked around the reception desk toward
Bradley’s office in the back. I have to remind myself to remember where I know
I opened the door to Bradley’s office and walked in with the same purpose I had
when I walked into the lobby a few minutes earlier. “I just came from the
principal’s office of Pierpont’s school,” I said.
Bradley laughed. “Already? What did you do?”
Unamused, I raised a “you have some ‘splainin’ to do” eyebrow.
“What did Pierpont already do?”
“You tell me.”
“Uh oh. What did I already do?”
“Pierpont punched a classmate in the stomach. He says you told him to do so.
The school didn’t believe him, which is why they called me in. I told Mr.
Collins it’s probably not that far from the truth, but that I’d talk to you and
find out how ‘not far’ from it his story really is.”
Bradley stared at me for a moment, as if trying to decide how best to respond. “It’s
actually quite...close...to the truth.”
“Why would you tell him to do that?”
Bradley leaned forward in his chair. “I don’t know what people had been feeding
their kids over the summer versus what we were feeding ours, but when I dropped
him off on his first day it seemed as if he was suddenly trending smaller in
comparison to the other kids than he was this time last year.”
“And I didn’t want him to be intimidated by any of them so I put together a
“And what was this plan?”
“I told him to make friends with a bigger kid who looked like they could be
trouble and strike up a deal with them to let him punch them in the stomach in
front of a bunch of other classmates – which is why you’ve been making a lot of
“What does chicken have to do with it?”
“The kid likes chicken sandwiches.”
“I don’t understand.”
“For a week’s worth of chicken sandwiches to trade at lunch, the big kid let
Pierpont punch him in the stomach at recess.”
“So that the other kids would think Pierpont is some tough kid and leave him
“And you weren’t worried about him getting in trouble?”
“No, because he wasn’t supposed to do it while a teacher was watching.”
#23 – “Back to School Night”
A few nights ago, Bradley and I went to the twice-delayed
(for whatever reason that I didn’t push to find out) Back to School night at
Pierpont’s school. Attending these events used to be a bit of a joke for me
since I was pretty much at his school on a weekly basis meeting with one
teacher or another to actively monitor Pierpont’s academic performance, but
this year I’ve tried to ease up a bit on the visits now that Pierpont was nine,
in fourth grade and becoming a bit embarrassed by them.
After having already met his primary teacher (I was allowed
at least that), I was very excited to meet his secondaries for music, art,
theater and physical education.
The structure of the evening was a general assembly with the
Principal, Mr. Collins. Bradley and I had a minor laugh over the fact that Mr.
Collins was so familiar with us that he made it a point to come over and say
hello. Collins even joked about how happy he was to report that he hadn’t seen
Pierpont in his office in the month since he last called
us in for a meeting about him.
After the general assembly, we were broken up by classroom
to hear from, ask questions to and meet with the primary teachers. After that,
all the secondaries were available for parents to roam in and out of their
rooms to hear from, ask questions to and meet with. This part of the evening
was more or less optional, so many parents left while the more dedicated ones
such as Bradley and me actually took the time to meet with them.
Or at least tried to. A lot of the remaining parents crammed
into the art room for her presentation because all the kids’ projects were
displayed and they all wanted to see what their kids have been working on since
the beginning of the school year. The theater teacher also drew a bit of a
crowd by incorporating the parents into the acting exercises she was teaching
A lot of parents, including us, left their kids with the
physical education teacher after his session – presumably to tire them out
before bed since he had engaged them in a game of freeze tag. I never liked
Phys Ed as a kid, but Pierpont loves it. And given the Phys Ed teacher’s
(ironically named Jim) approach, I see why: instead of a focus on baseball,
football, soccer and basketball, the focus is on strength training and cardio.
Sure, there’s kickball, dodgeball (thank God I send my kid to a school in a district
run by an Administration only one-third full of idiots) and the wretched
fitness test, but Jim (the only teacher I call by his first name – at his
insistence) clearly sees Phys Ed as more than just gym class. In fact, he
brings his wife in twice a month to talk openly and field questions about the
more delicate developmental situations – to a certain point. At that point,
they reach out to the parents for guidance from them about how they’d best like
the matter handled.
I can’t wait for our discussion with Pierpont.
Very few people made it down to the music room though –
perhaps due to its unfortunate location at the very end of a long hall well
beyond the heavy traffic area. Additionally, Mr. Greeley, fresh out of music
school with a teaching certification, didn’t have anything to display or music
exercises he could reasonably expect the parents to participate in or the
students to participate in with their parents in the room. So all he could
really think of doing was talking about what he was teaching them – which was
not as exciting.
Because I felt bad for Greeley
(and because he was adorable in his bright-eyed enthusiasm), I handed Bradley
my jacket and said, “’Old Time Rock and Roll’ in E-Flat.”
laughed and said, “Are you serious?”
“I certainly am. And I have no idea what E-flat sounds like,
but it doesn’t matter because I tend to hit every note but the right one
So he played and I sang, which piqued the curiosity of
several parents. I didn’t pack the place out but by the time I got to that
Hawaiian guy’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, most of those who did
make their way down were singing along.
After a round of applause, the customary bowing and even a
few dollars in tips that I in turn gave to Greeley, he asked if I’d be willing to do it
again for Back to School Night in February.
I agreed, but told him that we should take it to the
hallways. I’d sit on top of the piano and sing, he could play and then we’d
have a spotlight strategically placed at the end of the hallway for my closing
number – my version of the
theme song to It’s a Living.
- with special
contribution from Alison Smith.