The 13 year old boy is wearing glasses and is standing in the highschool hallway, leaning down on the table as he painstakingly begins his “Thank-you” card a third time. He is gangly, and one of maybe 5 boys at the dressage clinic peopled by at least a hundred girls. I overheard his mom earlier asking in a workshop about whether there could be more help for learning challenged kids who find themselves confronted with the written dressage test. She explained that her son was dyslexic and though very knowledgable about dressage, found written test taking very challenging. Now here she was, dressed in a snappy hot pink riding jacket standing over him as he soldiered on through his third attempt at the Thank-you card. I thought hard about how to make a wittty remark that would get him off the hook. He was intent on obliging her, but he made new spelling mistakes each time he wrote. She seemed incredulous. “No, there is an ‘r’ after the a, put an “r”. I knew from my daughter that the “Thank you notes” were certainly optional. Why is she making him do this? I thought. He undoubtedly needs to do things that build his confidence. He needs a chair and a quiet place to write also. Extra letter writing standing up in a hallway on a Sunday just doesn’t seem productive. She grew more irritated as he slowly labored. “You are going to need to get better at your spelling. We will have to do more writing.” I wanted to say, “Oh, some people never master spelling”, not to discourage him, but to let him know that life could be carried on without being able to spell well. But I held my tongue. I could not see any point to drawing more attention to his trouble. Why couldnt she just accept his mispelled card and chuck it in an envelope for him?
“Yes, you can go sleepover at your friend’s house so you two can go together to Drawing class in the morning, as long as Daddy can drive you tonight. Can he?”
Next I say, “I took the roll of gray paper out to my studio so you will need to go out there to retrieve it and cut off some pieces for Drawing tomorrow”. (so he stops using the teacher’s paper) “Let me know if you can’t find it.”
Then, I remember another thing. “Amy is teaching preschoolers right in town. She asked if Daddy would go and do a demonstration sort of thing about bees. He doesnt want to commit the time, but I told her you might be willing to. Y’know, you would just go show them some photos of catching a swarm, maybe bring in some wax frames, some honey, and tell them about how the bees make honey and stuff”.
There is a moment of silence and then my son answers, “No, I don’t really want to do that. ” and then “I don’t like preschoolers.”
Whereupon I laughed a little and said, “you were one yourself once y’know, and wouldn’t you have liked it if some dude came and showed you how bees make honey?”
“I dunno.” Time to move on from that topic.
“Well, Why don’t you think about it. So the next thing is whether I am picking you up at 3 tomorrow? Did you want to do the driving test class thing tomorrow? It’s a good day for it because Daddy can pick you up early and I mostly can’t do that on Thursdays.”
“Well, OK, I guess I should do the stupid testdriving class thing tomorrow then.”
“Well, don’t do it on my account. It is fine with me if you don’t.”
” No, I’ll do it tomorrow. When is it over?”
“It usually ends early, but I think it is scheduled from 4 until 9 or something, but they usually run out of material quite a bit earlier. I guess there are only so many gory movies you can show and rules to go over.
“Well, then, when will it be over? ”
“Well, I cannot say exactly; I think that it is supposed to go to 9 like I said but I am not sure. You can call us when it is over and we can come get you.”
“Alright,” I reply, “have fun and I will see you tomorrow and don’t forget to call me if you have trouble finding the paper”. We hang up and I go in to the music studio where my daughter is tuning up her violin. Something triggers my memory and I recall the envelope on the counter at home with money and unused tickets in it. I debate for one minute in my mind about dealing it with it some other time, but I already missed one opportunity to send the envelope to the mother of my son’s friend. So I step outside again to dial my son.
“Hey, it’s me again. There is an envelope on the counter with “Kim” written on it. I think it is green. Can you give that to her tonight? ”
“Ummmm, oh.I see it.OK.”
“Alright, thanks, see you tomorrow.”
Miss him already.