Thursday, April 06, 2006


In Which Everything Feels Normal...Almost TOO Normal...

Today's title says it. This is the first day in a long time that I woke up actually feeling as though things were normal.

Not "normal" for me. But "normal" in the way I suppose everyone else feels it. There were no oddly acquired illnesses or self-inflicted injuries that needed tending, no doctor appointments to wonder why hormone levels or lung-fluid levels aren't dropping. No moods to lift (Her Lovely Self, while still sad about recent events, has been in much better spirits this week and better yet, is willing to talk more about how she feels and what the future will hold). No major domestic projects to fuck up while in the act of tending to them. No crazy deadlines at work, just the usual churn of copy. No houseguests--my parents flew out yesterday.

And no kids in trouble.

That's right. As I reported Monday, Thomas did serve his lunchtime detention, but thanks to the wisdom of her teacher and the solidarity of a few of his classmates, other kids were permitted to share his detention if they wanted. Out of a classroom of 12 or 14 kids, 5 chose to do this. By Tuesday, that number dwindled--it was just too nice a day to ignore and Nathan and Derrick HAD to go out for recess, leaving poor Thomas alone. With 3 girls. Oh, the agony.

And then yesterday, Wednesday, just before lunchtime, Principal Wolfman appeared in the classroom doorway, newly returned from wherever the hell he'd been. With him was Mr. Assouline, now once more just a vice principal and Dean of Discipline. They stood around silently until all the other kids left for lunch and recess, then the principal turned to his vice and said, "Mr. Assouline?"

The big man stood there, resplendent in his black suit and crew cut. He harrumphed and cleared his throat. Finally, he called Thomas' name. All the girls looked up right away. My son was in the process of drawing a picture of a pack of brutal raptors tearing a man to pieces (A man in a black suit with really short hair). But after a beat, he set his marker down and looked up.

"Thomas, what are you going to do if you ever see someone bullying a classmate again?" Assouline asked.

"Tell him to stop or ask the kid to come away from the bully with me," he said.

"And what if the bully comes after you?" Assouline asked.

Thomas frowned, thinking. Was this a trick question? "We would run away and yell for a teacher," he said finally.

The room was silent for a long moment. Then Principal Wolfman gave Assouline a somewhat expectant look.

Finally, Assouline said, "It sounds to me as though you've learned your lesson, and Mrs. Dodd said you and your--" he looked at the girls. "--friends have been very well behaved, so I am giving you a reprieve. Do you know what that is?"

"Yes," said Thomas. "It means letting me out of detention." Hey, he does live with an editor, you know.

Mr. Assouline nodded. "But--I don't want to see you pushing kids or hurting them or ever fighting again, or you'll have even more trouble. Do you understand?" According to Mrs. Dodd (how do you think I find these things out?), he tried to sound tough, like a man who drives a hard bargain and finally got his demands met, but it fell flat, at least to adult ears. Principal Wolfman nodded and put a dismissive hand up in front of Assouline.

"I think Thomas understands just fine," he said, then turned to Jackie, Olivia and Caitlin. "You girls make me very proud. I don't know any kids your age who would have done what you did. Thomas is very lucky to have friends like you." He beamed at them while they all blushed. Then looked at his watch. "If you're finished with your lunch, you can all go on out to recess."

"For the whole week? Thomas too?" Olivia asked. I swear, if I were 30 years younger I would have the biggest crush on this girl.

Wolfman nodded and the kids were up and out the door in a blink. Assouline skulked off to wherever it was he went at lunch.

(As far as I know, the bully Andrew who started all this was still sequestered in the administrative offices, being reprogrammed by educational videos. )

"And that was it," Mrs. Dodd told me later, over the phone. "Everything was back to normal."

I thanked her, but after I hung up I found myself vaguely disquieted by the idea of being in a place called "normal." I just don't have a lot of experience with it.

Oh well, I'm sure it'll all be over tomorrow.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

"Normal" is sort of like a compliment. And if you don't know how to accept the compliment, the best advice I ever rec'd was to take a deep breath in...

...let it out slowly...

... smile ...

and say "Thank you".

Enjoy it. "Normal" is usually quite short-lived. =)
I was just thinking that you should not get used to the term "normal" when you put in your last sentence-smart man.

I am happy to read that you and HLS are feeling better and that Art Lad is back on the high road.

Sometimes MM your stories just break my heart and I am a loss for words- so I am kind of glad for a Normal post. Be well & happy, normal or not.
Oh ya! Oh ya! Oh ya! Thomas got to go play. Oh ya! Oh ya! Thomas is outside today!

ok, well, the emotion is there, even if the talent with words is not. : )

I am happy. Thanks for making my day.

well done.

Take Care
Yes! Finally! Mr. Assouline gets what he deserves! I was hoping there'd be another chapter to this story.
Cheers for the good guys!

It sounds like the Principal is a good guy that knows the low down on Assholio.

This gives me hope that if you stay the course and do the right thing, justice will be served.

You made it through the low valley MM, enjoy your mountain top view while it lasts.
Normal? If you could just bottle some of that, I'd be first in line! LOL!

Sounds like little Miss Olivia might be a keeper. What a sweetheart!

And, I'm glad to know that Assoulines reign of terror is over - at least for the moment.

Most of all, I'm glad to hear that everyone at your house is feeling whole and healthy, and *better*.

T. :)
I want my kid to go to Thomas's school! Or, I want him to have friends like Thomas does. I don't think I have ever heard of 7 year olds having so much maturity, but since you live in Wonderland, it doesn't surprise me at all.
I'm happy to hear Assouline is back to having the supervision he obviously requires.

Enjoy your normal time while it lasts!
Well, that was VERY satisfying.

Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on the wall for the discussion between Principal Wolfman and Mr Assouline? I think I would have paid money to hear that conversation!
I was just thinking about how this is an excellent example of one of those pivotal moments in life that will - hopefully - define who we are later down the road...

At least, I hope it's one.
Does anyone else think the Deans of Discipline sounds like a 50's street gang in a bad movie?
Oooh, that's cool, littlegator. We could start a Magazine Family Fan Club and call ourselves the Deans of Discipline.
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