So I’m driving to my kids’ school to pick up my kids.
And the phone rings.
And it’s the school my kids go to, that I am on my way to.
Why the hell is the school calling me on my way to get them? I check the time. They are still in class.
Yes, it’s been another tough year for my son with ADD. It’s been a bitch. He’s failing. I’m a wreck about it. And my other son, well, he’s been a pistol too. Which one is this about? Did Mack fail another test? Did Zoom eat another child on the playground… and deny it? Which should I punish him for… eating another child or lying?
And I answer the phone. It’s Mack’s teacher, who I talk to several times a week over email and at least once in person. We’re attached in a weird way you are attached to a pimple. You didn’t choose it, but you still have to carry it until it goes away. I think she’s awesome, but we are attached for all the wrong reasons. She is at the end of her rope with Mack not doing anything she asks in class, being disorganized, performing below his ability… you know, ADD stuff. And she is feeling frustrated because she’s an amazing teacher, and she can’t crack the Mack Code. Some days I want to give her a purple heart for valiant effort. It’s not easy, and it makes you feel like a failure. It looks much easier than it is. I know, I’ve been on failure row too.
She talks quickly and mechanically, almost as if we’ve never met. I know the signs. She’s frustrated and professional. I respect that.
“This is Mrs. Myasin. Mack has a lunch detention tomorrow, and he needs to tell you why.”
Me, slightly confused and suddenly distant from my pimple buddy, “OK.”
And my mind starts to run. What did he do? Do I try to guess? And how do I not have time to brush my teeth, but I have time for forty lines of inner dialogue in a five second span of time in real life? I really need to slow down. But still, what could it be? Maybe I’ll just let him surprise me instead of trying to guess. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.
And my son’s sweet phone voice lifts my heart. He is an angel sometimes. I save every phone message he ever leaves me. He has the most precious phone voice. I want to give him a huge hug. Maybe I’ll be mad in a minute, though.
If you have a child with ADD, you know any conversation is a longer one than it should be. I heard the teacher go back to teaching. And I knew it was gonna be great. My son was apparently standing in front of the class on the detention phone. His teacher is meting out a punishment, but my son has already gotten past his devastating embarrassment because his mind has already skipped to thirty other thoughts. He’s now wondering why the chalkboard looks more crooked than yesterday, and how is it attached? This was going to be a long conversation. But I decided to enjoy it.
“Hello, son.” And I waited.
I could hear his brain scrambling to remember why he had called me and remembering also that it was important. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi….
“Oh, I got in trouble.”
And he’s distracted again.
Me: “Son, what happened? Why did you get lunch detention?”
And then he said it.
“I was hypnotizing the other children.”
I wasn’t sure I heard what I heard. Did he say hypnotizing? As in making people walk about like a chicken, and they don’t know it? Did he say martinizing? Is that a thing? I’m trying not to bust out laughing and crash the car. WTF? He was hypnotizing the other children? That’s awesome!
Okay, hold it together, momma. Be respectful of the classroom. There is a time and place for hypnotizing, and this is not it. There is a time and place, right? Where? BAHHHHHHAHAHAHAH!!! He’s freaking awesome! If you’re going to get in trouble, that’s the best thing EVER to get in trouble for. I choked on my laughter, so it sounded like I was crying instead… not what I was going for, but the best I could do last minute.
Me: “You were hypnotizing the other children?”
Mack: “Well, I wasn’t actually hypnotizing them. I was pretending.”
And that’s when I loved him even more than I ever thought I could before. He just clarified for me that he wasn’t ACTUALLY doing it. He didn’t say he didn’t know HOW to do it. He didn’t even say he wouldn’t do it. He just let me know that he wasn’t actually doing it this time. I tried to stay somber and think of the right thing to say with my motherly pride, while letting him know he had to respect his teacher.
“OK, son. I will see you later. Love you.”
Yep, that was the magic I dreamed up. I hung up the phone. My mind began to picture the classroom. How did he get found out? Was the class marching about clucking like chickens, and Mack was sitting there with his pocket watch amidst the farm action? Was that how he got into trouble? Or was he foiled when the teacher saw him twisting his pencil and mumbling things under his breath to the kids around him, and she thought, “Stop this tomfoolery immediately! We can’t have hypnotizing today! Not with all the work there is to do!”
And how did she decide on the severity of his punishment? How many times had this happened before? Because I know I never hypnotized my friends at school, and I really think I might have missed out.
Hell, being a teacher is a hard job, and I felt so lucky at this moment that she was going to come up with a solution instead of me. I sat with a smile in my car as I drove to pick up my kids from school. My son might be the most difficult child in her class this year. He might make the both of us lose sleep and feel intense anxiety about anything related to school, but he’s a freaking genius in my book today. What a cool-ass kid. And I won’t be able to tell him until he’s graduating, but one day I will tell him he is my hero.