A recently retired schoolteacher, I was missing my students. It wasn’t that I was bored. But, I felt somewhat lost without the fulfilling rewards of watching my pupils grasp new thoughts and ideas.
Which is why I agreed to help my grandson, who was struggling with his studies.
“Mom, he brought home ANOTHER bad report card and I’m just not getting through to him! Could you—would you—mind tutoring him over the summer?”
Jonathan and I, although close, hadn’t opportunity to spend time together as of late, so I was looking forward to our first session. I rounded up markers, pens, pencils, erasers, notebook paper and subject matter in preparation for his arrival.
“Hey, Grammaw, how’s it goin’?”
“My sakes, child, you must have grown another three inches! Sit down and have a snack—I made you snickerdoodle cookies . . . Did you bring some of your class assignments and your last report card, honey?”
He scrambled around in his grungy backpack, trying to delay the inevitable. Seeing the evidence before me in black and white looked appalling.
“Jonathan, how COULD you manage to fail in math? It’s your favorite subject!”
“Arggh!”, covering his ears, “you’re not supposed to use that word! I didn’t fail—Mrs. Harvey calls it ‘deferred success’.”
“Oh, really. An F is failing, whatever term you want to give it, and your mother’s right, THIS is a bad report card!”
“Mrs. Harvey says we shouldn’t say ‘bad’—it’s just ‘undesirable’.”
“O-o-k-a-y. Whatever. Now, here’s a worksheet that will help you. I’ll be back to check it over in 15 minutes. Just out of curiosity, what do you say for ‘good’?”
“ ‘Agreeable’, he promptly responded with a cocky grin.
Exactly fifteen minutes later . . .
Reaching for my red marker, I began circling some minor mistakes on Jonathan’s completed assignment.
“Grammaw, no! You’re never supposed to use red for corrections—that’s banned from our school.”
“Heavens, boy, how you startled me! Whatever is wrong with red?”
“Well, uh, they say red is too abrasive; purple is what Mrs. Harvey uses—then we don’t feel so embarrassed.”
“I see. I think I’m beginning to understand this report card. Jonathan, do you think you’re ignorant—or just lazy?”
“No, of course I’m not! ‘Ignorance’ is a rather harsh term. The principal prefers ‘alternate wisdom’; and I’m just ‘motivationally deficient’ sometimes.”
“You know what? That sounds just plain stupid,” I exclaimed.
“Now, Gram, you mean it sounds ‘intellectually impaired’.”
“Jonathan, are they CRAZY at that school, or just incompetent?”
“They aren’t ‘emotionally different’ or ‘differently qualified’! I’ve explained all this to Mom—hasn’t she told you?”
Shaking my head in disbelief, I tried a different tact.
“I usually thrive on challenges and have a lot of patience, you know? But this stuff is utter nonsense! And I won’t stand by and watch you fail when you’re such an intelligent boy!”
“Not the ‘F’ word again, Grammaw! We say, ‘achieve a deficiency.’ And, it’s not like I’m ‘mentally different’ than anyone else. Let’s just say I’m rather ‘intuitive’.”
"It’s no wonder kids are graduating as illiterates—the teachers just shove them through the system when they’ve failed classes,” I hotly stated, hands on hips, my eyes brittle.
“Our teachers consider kids who can’t read as ‘alternatively schooled’ who are occasionally ‘passing impaired’.”
Speechless for one of the few times in my career, I just sighed—heavily and repeatedly. Then, recouping,
“Okay, Mr. Smarty-pants. Do you or your classmates have consequences for anything? What about cheating and lying?”
“The school psychologist calls it ‘academic dishonesty’ and ‘ethically disoriented’.”
“So what do you call it when you get an answer wrong, ‘differently logical’?”
“Hey, Grammaw, you’re catching on!”
“So, I suppose that if you’re certain about something, you’re just ‘reasonable sure’?”
“You got it!”
I glanced down at the single sheet of math my grandson had finished and showed him mistakes and sloppiness.
“I’m ‘non-traditionally ordered,’ that’s all.”
As my daughter arrived to pick up her son, I clinched the whole conversation.
“And, I say, you’re too good to be so bad!”
I was then awakened, my husband shaking my shoulders:
“Honey, Johnny-boy is here for his lesson. You were mumbling in your sleep again—something about ‘politically incorrect’.”
I arose, trying to wipe the cobwebs of the nightmare from my memory. I failed. I mean, I ‘attained unsuccess’,”:
“Harold, do we have any purple markers?”
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.