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The Horrible Day
“Are you excited, Sport?” my dad asked.
“Nervous?” my mom said. “Anxious?”
“Ready to be a fifth grader?” my dad asked.
“I’d rather be stuck in quicksand with chirping crickets stuck in both ears,” I said.
My mom yelped, “How would crickets get in your ears?”
“By jumping,” I said.
“Adam, don’t ever let crickets jump into your ears,” my mom said. “I mean it.”
My dad poured her coffee.
“Only half a cup,” she said. “I’ll have more at the Second Annual First-Day-of-School All-You-Can-Eat Eggstravaganza.”
“I can’t believe they sprung Ms. Madison on us,” I said. “With a one-day warning.”
“Life changes, Sport,” my dad said. “We adjust.”
“Lucy Rose says the principal should not have let Mrs. George retire,” I told them. “Especially since Jonique has been waiting her whole life to be in Mrs. George’s class. Ms. Madison should stay in middle school where she belongs. You can’t just walk into a classroom and take over.”
“You can if the principal hires you to teach fifth grade,” my dad said.
“Young teachers are fun teachers,” my mom said. “The letter said we’re lucky to get her.”
“Kids call her Bad Ms. Mad,” I said.
“I’m sure that’s a friendly nickname, just like Melonhead,” my mom said. “Your friends don’t think you have a melon for a head.”
“Melonhead is an honor for our last name,” I said. “It’s a compliment. Bad Ms. Mad is the truth. People do think I have a head like a melon. Pop said I have the roundest head he’s ever seen on a ten-year-old boy.”
Pop’s the inventor of the Eggstravaganza and also my old friend. His wife, Madam, is too, only she’s not as old. Their granddaughter, Lucy Rose, is my same-age friend.
“Pop said your head was too round?” my mom said.
“Betty,” my dad said. “Adam has a fine head. We Melons are proud of our heads.”
“Pop said I need the extra brain space,” I said.
“That’s true,” my mom said. “You are exceptionally smart. Pop is right.”
“Exactly,” my dad said. “I read that fifth grade is a time of great growth.”
“For heads?” my mom said.
“For judgment and responsibility,” he said.
“Is that true?” my mom asked.
“It could be,” he told her. “I believe our boy could be the leader of the pack.”
“Do you mean pack like a pack of wolves?” I asked.
My dad laughed and crumpled my new haircut with his hand.
“Daddy meant pack like a pack of gum,” my mom said. “Quiet, contained, and just like the other gum in your class.”
“I should be gumlike?” I asked.
“Just don’t be wolflike,” she said. “I don’t enjoy getting calls from Mr. Pitt.”
“They’re worse for the person he’s calling about,” I said.
“Well, I hope Daddy’s right. You are my Darling Boy, but a dose of judgment would help me worry less. I’ve barely slept since the Great Glue Incident.”
“The GGI was one hundred percent accident,” I said. “It could happen to anybody with hair.”
“Let’s not replay yesterday,” my dad said. “Our boy learns from his mistakes, don’t you, Sport?”
“It is amazing how much I’ve learned,” I said.
Sometimes my dad laughs for no reason.
My mom unzipped a plastic bag. “Carrots, celery, or both?” my mom asked. “For lunch.”
“None of the above,” I said.
“Dr. Stroud said you need more vegetables.”
“He said I need more green, yellow, and red in my diet,” I told her. “I’m already doing it. By drinking more Gatorade.”
“Dr. Stroud meant red, green, and yellow vegetables,” my mom said. “Starting today you’ll be eating more of them.”
I made my famous throwing-up sound.
“I told Dr. Stroud that was our New School Year’s resolution,” she said. “And we’re sticking to it.”
If I hadn’t been in such a rush to get to the Eggstravaganza, my brain alarm would have gone off.
Posted October 8, 2012