April Fool's Day, high school counselor, jokes, mother's love, mothers and sons, plotting revenge, practical jokes, revenge, sense of humor, Snow days, Speeding, Suspension from School, the perfect day
Even the weather was awesome. Too beautiful to stay indoors, I sat on my front porch. Unlike the other 364 days of the year in West Texas, it wasn’t windy. I believe a heavenly 74-degree spring day like that should always be celebrated. Hence, I relished the sunshine, the fresh, non-dusty air, the sweet, little robins hopping in my yard under the tree in search of worms. Against the sapphire Texas sky melodic mockingbirds perched in the gently swaying branches of the big tree in my front yard. A breeze caressed my wind chimes by the bird bath and a ground squirrel skittered by me with pieces of wires in his mouth—they like to chew through wires around here—I think their building a super-computer somewhere and are poised to take over the world. But anway…
Within an arms reach I had my Diet Coke. Full of crushed ice, the frosty soda bubbled and popped in my favorite “Queen” cup. Next to the cup, a handful of cherry sour balls glistened in the sunshine. (They’re great if they’re warm—like if you leave them in the car for a while. The gooey goodness of melty-cherry flavoring is worth the almost-permanent stain of red they leave on your fingers. But, I digress…)
Ahhh, yes. Life was good. Until the phone rang.
“Hello, this is Mr. Avery from the high school. Is this Mrs. Goodfellow?”
Immediately, my heart started banging against my chest. I swallowed the cherry sours I had packed in my cheek–like a ground squirrel with wires.
Every mother knows they never call when it’s something good. Never. A week earlier, my son placed 5th out of 55 in a writing competition and not one person from the high school called. Nope…whatever followed that salutation was not going to make me happy.
I honestly thought about saying, “That depends. Why do you ask?”
“Yes, this is she.”
“I’m calling because there was an “altercation” at school today involving your son, Greg.”
My heart stopped. The world wobbled. An altercation? Isn’t that a public school euphemism for fight? A fight? I pictured the 6 ½ foot, 300-lb All-State Defensive Lineman pummeling my baby boy! My stomach lurched.
But…I’d already seen him. He wasn’t hurt.
Okay, he’s not injured. Good. Except–then I pictured my burly weight-lifting son throwing a scrawny chess player into a trash can. Maybe not so good!
“Mrs. Goodfellow, did Greg tell you about what happened?”
“No, he hasn’t said anything.”
In fact, when he came home he was a little more ‘smiley’ than normal and he gave me a kiss on my cheek before he went inside. I attributed that little extra piece of affection on the continuation of my perfect day—or the fact that he needed gas money.
“Greg was caught speeding in the student parking lot today.”
Now my protective “mother-bear adrenaline” morphed into a jolt of angry heat that shot up my spine. Do mother bears eat their young? I’m going to kill him. There go his driving privileges.
“Speeding?” I clenched my teeth and gripped the phone.
“Yes. And when Mr. Spears, the parking lot attendant told him to slow down, he argued with him.”
Forget taking away driving privileges. My mind began to churn up new and inventive ways to torture a teenager. I’ll drive him to school every day—wearing curlers in my hair.
“H-he argued with him?”
“Yes. He disputed the speed. They got into a verbal altercation.”
Not only will I don hair curlers, but I’ll draw a fake mustache with eyebrow pencil—just a dark shadow across my lip.
He continued, “When Mr. Spears told him to go to the office for insubordination, he refused.”
Okay…now I’m going to wear curlers, my fake mustache and I’m going to connect my eyebrows together in one giant unibrow like Ernie from Sesame Street.
“H-he…talked back?” My brain would not engage except to dream up new ways to punish the child. I’m floored by this side of my son. Now, his unibrow, curler-wearing, mustached-momma is going wait until he’s surrounded by his classmates and then call him back to the car, “Baby Greg! You forgot to kiss mommy!”
“Yes and when Mr. Spears told him he would be getting detention for his attitude, Gregory sped out of the parking lot.”
That’s it! Homeschooling! The ultimate punishment for my children and the thing I’ve always threatened them with for any transgressions against the institutions of free, public education. It was the harbinger of nasty retribution for abusing the privilege of a public school education—where they’d be taught by more patient and forgiving people. People who couldn’t make them eat brussel sprouts and dry crusts of bread for lunch if they did not perform to the best of their ability. ME! All day! Everyday! I’m sure the mere thought of that gave them nightmares, but it kept them on the good side of what the public schools like to call “citizenship.” That is until now–
At this point, I tried to sound coherent to Mr. Avery. I wanted to end the phone call because it seemed the longer I talked to this man, the worse my son’s behavior became. I wanted to hang up before I discovered Greg flipped Mr. Spears the bird. I’m sure that would’ve made my head spin around and someone would have had to call an exorcist. I already felt the need to expel a stream of pea-soup—head spinning was just one misbehavior away.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Avery. I’ll take care of this.” That’s as much as I could force from my lips.
“Uhh…Mrs. Goodfellow, he’ll be on OSS for three days.”
My face turned hot, my mouth dried and my tongue felt two sizes too big for my mouth. “Out of School Suspension?”
Ahhh…three days at home with me! He will rue the day!
After I hung up the phone it all sunk in.
This will be on his ‘permanent record’! I saw Greg’s future–and it wasn’t bright. Suspension? Now he’ll never get into college, get a good job, get married and be successful. Greg’s future lay…in our basement!
The future flashed before my eyes. Greg, at 27-years-old playing Maddon-2021, wearing only his boxers and black socks, slouched on a second hand couch that he’d found on the curb. I could see him eating a Hot Pocket, Cheetos scattered all over the broken coffee table in front of him and a ring of florescent orange around his lips.
“Son…has Walmart has called today?” I’d ask.
“Yeah, I told them I couldn’t’ go for the interview, mom. I’m still grounded from the car.”
Ahhh! I shuddered to get the horrible image out of my head. Still reeling, I thought, “There go all the plans his dad and I had about traveling around the world, living in a metropolitan area without worrying about school districts, eating dinner at nine if we so chose and enjoying each other again like newlyweds.” Bottom Line: The kid totally ruined his future and our sex life in one fell swoop. Ohhh…he’s gonna get it!
As I sat there contemplating the grim future, the front door opened and my 175-lb baby boy stood at the threshold. His big brown eyes were wide and he desperately tried to look innocent. I knew that look. It hadn’t changed since he was a pre-schooler guilty of licking all the frosting off a dozen donuts when we told him he couldn’t have a one until after church. “But, Daddy, I didn’t have one.”
Cradling his cat in his arms he took a tentative step out the front door. I knew he’d been listening.
“Momma?” After the age of eight, he only called me momma if he were sick with fever or if he knew he was about to be skinned alive.
He was standing on the side of me, but I looked away. I put up my hand to stop his progress and managed to get this coherent piece of advice out of my mouth. “You. Room. Now!”
“I said go.”
“Am I in trouble?”
“You are in so much trouble that if you don’t walk away from me in the next two seconds I will…”
“But what did I do?”
I stood up and stared incredulously into his sweet face. “Don’t play games with me Gregory! I’m letting your father handle this one. Now go to your room. I’m counting to three.” (I have no idea why this still works with him, but it does.)
His smile disarms me every single time and he knows it. His big, brown teddy-bear eyes usually render me into Jell-o. At that moment, I knew I should’ve avoided them at all cost.
But…what the heck is he smiling at?
“April Fool’s! Ha! Ha! I got you! I got you!” He jumped around the porch laughing and pointing at me.
“Me and Stephen got you! Finally, after all these years, we got you!!”
And they did.
Greg had called his brother at college and concocted the whole thing. So I wouldn’t recognize the voice, Stephen had his roommate call and they used *67 to block the caller id. Why hadn’t it occurred to me that it came up Private Caller instead of the school district? Ugh. Then I thought about how it sounded like I was on a speaker-phone. It all started to make sense. They got me all right. In fact, I had been broadcast to the university dorm’s common-room. I recalled whispering in the background of the telephone call. Was there stifled giggling? I think there was–only I was too irate to process it at the time. I’m glad I didn’t go all nuts and start screaming at Greg while “Mr. Avery” was still on the phone–like I’m sure they expected.
Well, it only took my sons ten years to get even with me, but their plan finally came to fruition.
What were they trying to avenge?
One April Fool’s day in South Dakota I awoke to a sugary coating of snow. Just a tiny bit. Now, unlike Texas, it had to be a pretty good snowstorm before they cancelled school there. Pretty good–as in at least three feet and sixty mile an hour winds.
The snow fluttered in tiny flakes that melted once they hit the ground. My boys, aged about ten and seven, got ready for school as usual. When they were ready to walk out the door, I went to my room and called the home phone from my cell.
“I’ll get it!” I said as I picked up the extension in the kitchen.
“Ohh…” I put my hand over the phone and mouthed, “It’s the school.” Then back into the receiver I said, “A snow day? Oh, all right.”
The boys’ eyes brightened. They stopped putting on their coats and hats. They looked at me with hope—with expectation.
“Thank you.” I hung up. “Guess what, boys? It’s–”
“A Snow day!” they yelled. They didn’t wait for me to finish the sentence. My boys literally danced around the living room yelling, “Snow day! Snow day!”
“Nope not a Snow Day.”
The ‘No-School Dance’ came to an abrupt halt as they looked at me in confusion. “Not a snow day, but…an April Fool’s day!”
It took a few seconds to register and then they both yelled, “MOOOM!” They broke out into laughter when they realized I got them. And then…they plotted for ten years to get even with me.
Have I told you how incredibly wonderful my boys are? They have turned into amazing young men with really great senses of humor. Now…about next April 1st…they best beware.