“So, did anything interesting happen at school today?”
Crud, they know. Did the school call? Shoot, I had hoped for at least one evening of peace. Or you know, maybe the stupid teachers to lay off for a bit. It wasn’t that big a deal! I’m a good student, I swear! My grades are… okay… and I really don’t cause too much trouble. But as one might expect, they have it in for me. Teachers always seem to think I’m up to no good, and this new school is worse than the last. At least the food is better, I guess that’s what you get from a private school.
Maybe I’m over reacting. Maybe they don’t know, this could be a normal question. Don’t we all talk about how our days went every evening? My parents like us having family meals at least a few time per week. Both of their jobs are pretty demanding - not that they get paid much - so it’s not an every evening thing. But they make the effort. And this always requires a “how was your day” conversation. The part where they elaborate on their time at work is fine, but when it’s my turn… eesh. Like I said, they try to make an effort.
I wish they wouldn’t.
“Not especially.” There we go, that’s a non-answer if I have ever given one. It wasn’t especially interesting.
“Are you sure there isn’t anything you want to tell us about?” I turn right toward the other end of the table to see… those eyes. Oh god they do know. Darn it. What do I say? I am not incriminating myself. My eyes sweep slowly back down along the length of the table.
I’m sitting on the long edge of a rectangular table of sturdy construction, it’s far too large for this family, but it was in the house when we moved here. Around the room is the eclectic assortment of furnishings one collects when garage sales and thrift stores are your go-tos for furniture acquisition. The table is set for the three of us, dining off of mixed-pattern plates. I think some were housewarming gifts, and at least one of the patterns has been around longer than I have. The forks all match tonight - so does the food. Chicken, rice, cauliflower. Why is this whole meal one color? Sure it tastes good. But what about presentation?
When my eyes make contact, I know I chose my target wisely. The cracks began to form - some people just don’t have very good poker faces, and this one was crumbling. Just need to hold eye contact a little bit…
“I got an Email from your english teacher today.”
Ugh, that’s what I was afraid of. At least I didn’t have to talk first, nothing is worse than being forced to tell your own parents that you got in trouble.
“Any idea what it said?” I glance back to the right. You stay out of this! I don’t need this routine coming at me from both sides.
If there is one thing I really don’t like, it’s a personal conversation. Talk to me about comic books, science, politics even, for as long as you want. But anything about me, my life, my family - those basic smalltalk questions everyone asks… ugh. This is the same feeling, getting in trouble isn’t half as bad as talking about why I’m in trouble. Not that I should be! It’s wasn’t a big deal. And why should I get in trouble at home if I already get punished at school for it? They just have to make it worse with this whole “something interesting” bit. If you know, confront me and get it over with. Don’t try to bait me into lying about it, or test my honesty.
I’m not going to be honest. Don’t try.
Not because I’m dishonest! I just don’t like this kind of conversation, so I give non answers. “How was your day” rainy. “How was school” educational. I’m not hiding anything… I just don’t want to talk about it.
Well, they know. This is something the public schools never did, nobody bothered to tell your parents if you messed up - you just got a detention. But we moved last fall, they let me keep going to my old school for the rest of the year - despite the twenty minute drive - but this year they enrolled me in a private school closer to home. I guess the local schools must be pretty poor, I know we can’t really afford this. I do like my new school, it’s a nicer building, better food, and friendlier people. They’re just far more strict in general. Now I have them Emailing or, worse, calling my parents about every little thing. Time for damage control…
“Look, it wasn’t even a big deal.”
“It was a big enough deal that your teacher felt like we needed to know about it.”
“But it was only, like, one time. And it was so not a big deal.”
“Even so, it’s still important. Don’t you know what this means?”
Oh, don’t be so dramatic. It doesn’t mean anything. I’m not sure why anyone would even care.
“News like this… “
“I’m sorry! It won’t… “ … “We’re so proud of…” We spoke all at once.
We sat there, I glanced between my parents trying to figure out where this conversation went awry. They both stare back.
Oh fudge. They meant that English teacher, the one that runs the writing club. Can’t they tell the difference between my teacher and a teacher?
The essay I submitted last week, I found out today that they wanted to publish it in some magazine that was highlighting “young talent” in the local schools. I guess it was pretty cool, though I was really just trying to get into the club. I never asked for them to submit it to a publisher.
“Er, I guess it is kinda cool…”
It is I guess, unexpected, but cool.
Okay fine, I am actually super excited about this. They’re publishing my paper! Well, it’s not a real publication. Just some local magazine, and it’s part of a collection of works from young authors. But they picked mine! I just hope this means I will fit in alright with this club. I really want to write fiction, but the requirement for joining the club was that it needed to be more academic in focus. That seems silly, since the club is basically just a bi-weekly meeting where students read each other's writing - whatever it may be, could even be for a class - and critique or proofread it.
“Um… yes, we were so happy to hear. You never even told us you were submitting something!”
Like I said, this kind of conversation makes me uncomfortable. It’s just as bad to talk about how proud they are of my writing as it would be to hear about their disappointment. This might even be worse… what if they ask to read it? No, the topic wasn’t anything embarrassing… I just get uncomfortable with the idea of my parents reading my papers. At least I can hopefully shut this one down, maybe a subject change…
“So did you hear… “ But one of them speaks up...
“Now tell us, what were you apologizing about?”