Clapping For The Underdog

I’m sitting here at my computer, trying to even remember what happened in the early parts of this past weekend.

Obviously, it was all tremendously exciting.

On Thursday, we had an early-release day from school, because parent-teacher conferences were in full swing for mid-terms.  The boy walked downtown from school with some friends, and hopped into a little coffee shop for lunch, and I sort of felt a shiver of sadness, because WHEN DID ALL OF THIS HAPPEN?  When, exactly, did my son grow up enough to be able to just walk downtown when school lets out early?  When did he quit needing me to pick him up and take him for a celebratory frozen yogurt, piled high with the gummy bears he insists on putting on top of his mountain of chocolate yogurt, which will then freeze into bits of rocks that chip teeth?

(For the record?  I think dentists LOVE the gummy bear option at the frozen yogurt hut, because gummy-bears-gone-cold translates into MANY DENTAL DOLLARS.)


While the boy was still wandering the town on foot with his buddies, Hubs and I met at the junior high, so that we could pop in and visit with his teachers, who were all set up at tables in the gym.  In the past, our conferences have always gone like this, “Oh!  The boy is so much fun to have in class!  He’s brilliant!  He has an A!  His grade is, in fact, a 99% in my class!  He talks to everyone who sits beside him, all the time!  I adore teaching your son!  Did I mention that he talks a lot to everyone?  It doesn’t matter WHERE he sits in the classroom; he’s going to talk to the kid next to him.”

And then this Thursday happened.

Specifically, the conference with his teacher from Advanced History happened.  She went through the usual conversation, of telling us how polite and kind the boy is, and then she just dumped it all out onto the table.

The boy, it seems, neglected to turn in a project that was worth a substantial pull of points, and HERE’S HIS C+ MIDTERM GRADE.

We have never seen the letter C… EVER... on the boy’s midterms or his report card.  Never, ever,  never.  I thought I might need some oxygen in a tank, so that I could breathe in and out, because IS THE ROOM SPINNING?  And, DID SHE JUST SAY C+?

When asked about this history assignment, the boy replied, “Yeah, I’m still working on that.  It’s taking a little longer than I thought it would.”  (I think the translation of that teenage comment was, “This is an advanced class, geared for higher thinking, and that project has required every bit of energy and focus I have, so I decided to take an extended sabbatical from it and regroup, because all that research is interfering with my social life.”)  When I showed him his C+, he actually looked at me with his jaw gaping wide open and said, “What?!!  She gave me a C+ for midterms?!!!  But I’m going to turn this in!”

Hello, eyeopener!  The boy was convinced that his teacher hated him with nineteen different levels of hate, because HOW DARE SHE DISH THAT GRADE OUT ON PAPER TO HIM?  There were also some tears, but then Hubs told me that it was plum ridiculous for me to cry over a C+ that wasn’t even mine.

And then Hubs and I explained that a teacher cannot grade what she does not have.  You can cross-stitch that on a throw pillow.

Now, after a weekend of hard work, the boy’s enormous history project is finished, and it looks like it could win awards.

Here’s to hoping that the award it wins is LOOK!  THIS RAISED YOUR GRADE CONSIDERABLY.  Because apparently my need to earn myself a long line of A grades is still a real and competitive thing inside of me, even though my own 8th grade year happened in the 1920s.  The good thing is that God chose to pair me up with level-headed Hubs, who is quick to point out that straight-A’s never made a person good on the inside.

After meeting with the history teacher, we met with the boy’s PE teacher.  She actually pulled me into a hug, even though this is the first time that I’ve ever met her, because this is a new class, with a new instructor, for the boy this quarter.  She then told me and Hubs, “Your boy is amazing!  He has restored my faith that this generation of teenagers will be able to take care of me and our country when I’m elderly.”  And then she went on to tell us that last week, a group of kids were picking on a boy in the gym.  She said that this boy invites a lot of the grief he gets from his peers, by intentionally aggravating everyone, but she said that she overheard a conversation that some boys were having with him.  She said that she started to walk over to them, to intervene and let them know that they’d be seeing their principal for a small talk on HOW WE TREAT OTHERS, when the boy immediately got into the middle of everyone and said, “Oh, my gosh!  Leave him alone!  He’s a person who wants to be treated well, exactly like you’re people who want to be treated well!  Grow up and quit picking on him!  It’s not cool, and it’s not okay!

She said that the other boys totally backed down, because everyone likes the boy and respects him.

And then she said that she wanted to hug our son senseless, for being brave enough to stand up to his peers… to his own friends… and let them know that what they were doing was wrong.  She told us that these boys still won an audience with their principal, but that she was so proud of the boy, her heart almost burst in half.

Which totally made the C+ grade on his midterms seem like a trivial thing, because straight-A’s never helped anyone do the right thing, at the right time.

Hubs and I are very proud of that kid of ours.


(And yes.  I’ve asked the boy if I could tell this story tonight, because it does involve some personal information about him.  The boy is at an age, where he needs to have his own privacy respected, and he did give me his permission to type this tale out tonight.)

The rest of our weekend was a lot of LOOK!  WE NEED GROCERIES!  And, IS IT EVER GOING TO STOP SNOWING?  And, I’M SO SICK OF 12-DEGREE WEATHER!!  (Which is probably why we stayed indoors all weekend.  I’m over the cold and the icy snow.)

It was also the weekend of LOOK!  I’M GOING TO FIX THE TANKLESS HOT WATER HEATER, THAT HAS BEEN ACTING FUNKY FOR THE PAST SIX MONTHS… AND I’M GOING TO FIX IT TONIGHT!  Because when you dish out enough money to buy a new Honda, and all you get is a hot water heater, you come to expect certain things, like TWO FAUCETS SHOULD BE ABLE TO RUN AT THE SAME TIME WITHOUT SOMEONE DEALING WITH ICE CUBES FALLING OUT.

Hubs and the boy ripped into that hot water heater on Saturday evening, and they discovered that a rather substantially-sized wasp nest had been built in the exhaust pipe.  And that the filter had become a mass graveyard for hundreds of wasp bodies.  And THAT, people, is why our tankless hot water heater has sounded like a jet engine for the last few months whenever someone showers, and why two showers could not run simultaneously without someone screaming, “Go away, Elsa!!  I’m freezing!”

Because only the rich and famous have six hundred dead wasp carcasses in their water heater’s filter.  People want to be us.

Yesterday, Hubs and I escaped on a date.  We saw McFarland, USA at the theater, and listen!  Run!  Run like the wind to see it, because it makes your heart glow with happiness.  It also makes you cry, if you’re experiencing a surge in estrogen for some reason, because you’ll just do a nice, Happy Cry when those underdogs come from behind and do great things.  I wanted to clap like a lunatic in the theater at the end of the movie.

But, if you’re more like Hubs, with an estrogen level of zero, it just makes you hungry for some genuine enchiladas, cooked by a Spanish-speaking mama who knows her way around the beans and the shredded chicken.

Y’all have a very merry Monday evening, and remember:

A C+ on a midterm can always be brought up before the real quarter grades come out in four weeks.  But what really matters is how our hearts are, and whether or not we are brave enough to stand before our peers and clap for the underdog.

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