"We Don't Let Dorothy Crack The Eggs Anymore" Chapt. 21, "My Son The Flunkie”

You know why they call it fall?

'Tis the season to be jolly well shot down. Fall is what you do, first on your face, after that first conference with your child's teacher, which is set up to discuss grades and progress.

Take this typical scene when the little nipper trots home his report card and it looks like he's going after the alphabet backwards. His mother remembers the days of "S" and "U" in the local school system, meaning satisfactory or "un."

He's carded grades that not only will prevent him from entering Harvard, but maybe also the unemployment lines.

"Who'd give ME a job?" he says, shrugging his mighty mite shoulders.

One of Billy's school chums, whose grades had rarely dropped below B, suddenly shoved a listing of minus-minuses and an F in his dear parents' frowning faces.

"We were in a state of shock," said his mother.
"Either bounce him back a grade or take him to another school, know what I mean? How could he change so fast?"

Consider their consternation when they were asked by their child's mentor:

"Couldn't you arrange it so your son could study his homework instead of having to do ALL the chores around the house?" (Later on in life, he took on a nickname, Sir Lies A Lot.)

His parents' jaws dropped to ground level.

Could this be their son? The lad who balks if he's asked to pick up a stray sock?

In the school corridor they met another mother who said, "Any alibi in a storm. One hears another use for the Cinderella excuse and right away he's listing imaginary chores."

She had come to "conference" about too much homework, trying to organize a grassroots movement outside the classroom.

After conferring with the teacher, she flamed out. "Teacher says those children only have a half hour's homework, so mine takes three hours to do hers."

Her boy, it turns out, has a speech impediment. (He has to stop and breathe every so often.) Actually, the kid is so garrulous in class, when no one will listen to him, he talks to himself.

The man ahead of us in the firing line snorted as he stalked out. "I don't care what Father Flanagan said about there are no bad boys. How come John got C minus in conduct?"

Conference time is when you learn your kid's flip answer, "I don't have any homework," score another checkmark in the uncompleted assignment column on his report card.

Conference time is when you better take up the Boy Scout credo. Before the next six weeks conference is due, surely any parent can improve. Or at least be prepared with custom-tailored reasons which absolve the home front.