It was bound to happen…The wee one got into her first bout of “trouble” at school the other day.

Last night was one of those parent teacher conferences that me and the ex had to attend. I remember when I was a kid how I dreaded when my parents would come to school. It’s not like I had done anything “bad” or something but still, there was a certain nervousness that I recall entering my brain when that time of the school year arrived. You never seemed to know what a teacher might say about you behind your back to your parents. Maybe that was the beginning of my fear of the unknown. Who knows?

Anyway, the conference was to be held in the school library and I got there a little early. With some time to kill, I took notice of the surroundings and how much had changed since the times I went to grammar school. Everything seemed so…small. Oh, there were computers and educational games and the older classics and the newer classics adorned the bookshelves but somehow I felt, I dunno, out of place.

So there I was, wandering the aisles, glancing at titles, some familiar, some not, just killing time before my ex appeared and we could get on with the proceedings. It wasn’t long before she came in and we chatted for a bit about the upcoming holidays and how we were going to split the time with Anna and what to get her for Christmas and the usual things that parents talk about. Our conversation was cut short with the arrival of the teachers.

After the usual introductions were made, we were ushered to a table and handed a report card that listed the subjects and the accompanying grade. There was a period of silence as me and the ex looked it over and exchanged smiles about how well our little offspring was performing in both her academics and her social skills. I think we both shared a certain inner pride that comes when you see the good things that your kid is doing. After some perfunctory conversation with the teachers about what a joy it is to have Anna in their class and how well she’s performing one of the teachers said they’d feel remiss if they didn’t mention a “little incident” that occurred the other day. My ex and I exchanged wary glances towards each other and geared ourselves for the worst. After all, nobody ever imagines that their little darlings are capable of any wrongdoings and they tread on hallowed ground. It seems that the little one gotten had it into her head to play a practical joke on one of her friends. The little prankster had smuggled a tiny rubber mouse into the school and during lunch had somehow surreptitiously concealed the rubber rodent into one of her buddies’ bowl of applesauce. Apparently she had connived with some of her partners in crime to distract her victim and make her move when she wasn’t looking. The plot was hatched and it was executed to perfection. I guess when you’re ten, nobody likes to fall victim to a practical joke. Besides the shock value, I guess there’s this whole thing about being embarrassed in front of your peers and the blow to one’s pride about being the butt of a joke can take it’s toll… It seems that upon discovering the applesauce slathered mini-mouse, a kind of general hysteria broke out at their table. Apparently the victim let loose a scream that shook the rafters of the lunch room and turned heads at the other tables. Soon, there were tears and the threat of the victim losing her lunch loomed heavy on the horizon. The other kids tried to console her but the battle was lost. It took the comforting words of one of the teachers to bring peace to the proceedings. My ex and I assured the teachers that we would have a word with our darling little one about appropriate behavior in the future. To paraphrase our conversation afterwards…

“Bob, I have a confession to make. I saw her in the car with the mouse and she told me of her plan. It seems that this kind of thing is like a running gag amongst the kids and I didn’t think anything of it.”

I told her it was no big deal and if I recall correctly, things such as practical jokes were the norm rather than the exception back in our days. I don’t think the kid that was the victim was traumatized to the extent that she would never eat applesauce again or would have an inordinate fear of mice. If she had, we’d have probably heard about the incident earlier via a phone call or a visit from one of her parents.

I plan on talking to Anna tomorrow about the incident when she comes over for dinner. I’ll try on keep a straight face when I do but it’s gonna be hard. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. You can bet that I’ll also be keeping a watchful eye on my plate… From our table to yours, have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving with whatever loved ones you're blessed enough to have. Peace from the borgo household!