My daughter seemed to be shrinking. I could hear her thoughts as clearly as if she'd said them out loud.
Mom, I didn't think.
A head taller than all but a few of the boys in her class and so bright I'd received a telephone call from the principal several weeks earlier, inspired by a classroom discussion of a play they'd studied. That telephone conversation had begun:
"I have to tell you . . ."
I'd received calls beginning with the same words from other teachers. Somewhere during the course of each conversation, the phrase, "In all our years of teaching, " crept in.
Each time a teacher asked a variant of the question, "Do you know just how bright your kid is?" Each time, my answer was the same. "I'm getting the idea."
* * * *
"Mr. G told me to expect a letter," I said.
"I was supposed to ask you to call him," she replied.
"And you forgot."
"Are you in trouble?"
"I don't think so. Am I?"
* * * *
The letter arrived. I hadn't met the new assistant principal, but knew my daughter liked him. He wore a bow tie and didn't sport a brush-cut, which was reassuring.
I seated myself in my favorite chair, took a breath and slit open the envelope. I can't do it justice, but the letter made me laugh until tears streamed down my face. Hearing the commotion in the hall, the Assistant Principal left his office and followed the crowd. As he approached the turn in the corridor from which the loudest voices emerged, someone yelled, "Here comes Mr. G!"
Just as he rounded the turn, the spectators scattered and the boys who had been leaning against the door to hold it shut, simultaneously ran. The door flew open and the girls tumbled out.