Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: COMPUTER (05/19/16)
TITLE: Invisible Child
By Francie Snell
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"Yeah," he mumbled, and looked down at the floor.
"Have a seat. I'm Mrs. Blair." She peered intently back at the screen.
Tommy meekly stepped to a leather chair facing the desk and sunk into the seat.
Mrs. Blair clicked the mouse, minimizing the report on the screen. She opened the top drawer of her desk, pulled out a thin metallic, rectangular device, and slid her finger across the bottom of its screen. It lit up. She tapped in the date, time, and Tommy's name. "Well Tommy, I understand you're having problems in school."
Avoiding her stare, he looked away and focused on a small statue displayed on her desk. It was of a young boy running with a football.
"Your teacher Mrs. Lee tells me you've been fighting on the play ground and are disruptive in class. Is that true?"
"You want to tell me about it, why you're acting this way?
Tommy shrugged. "I dunno."
Her eyes narrowed. "Well, this is a serious problem young man, and your parents are quite upset."
His eyes got big as he looked at her. "You talked to my mom and dad?"
"Yes, Tommy. I called them before this meeting. They needed to know what's been happening with you. They are very concerned."
"Yes, of course they are. Does that surprise you?"
She tilted her head slightly as she studied the boy. Calmly she spoke. "Tommy, I don't know what you're thinking, so I'd like for you to answer a question, and I want you to think carefully about it before you answer, okay?"
"If you could be anything in the world, what would you want to be? Maybe a bird? or a plane?... anything? There is no wrong answer. Take your time and think about it."
As he gazed out the window, Mrs. Blair doodled on her iPad a few of the tasks she wanted to accomplish that day. When she finished, she set it down on the desk and looked at Tommy.
"Come up with any ideas yet?"
He turned his head and looked at her. A tear slowly fell down his cheek. He sniffled. "A Smartphone."
"A Smartphone?" She crinkled her eyes.
"Yep." He sat up straight and wiped his eyes. "A Smartphone."
She paused a moment and cleared her throat. "Well, Tommy, that's very interesting. Can you tell me why you'd want to be a Smartphone?"
"Because, that's what my mom and dad are always looking at. No matter what they're doing, they always stop and listen when their phones make a noise, like it's important. I wish they would do that for me. Maybe they would like me more if I were a Smartphone. I'd know all sorts of stuff. They could ask me all kinds of questions and I could tell them the answers. Then maybe they wouldn't argue so much. They would always listen to what I say. And whenever they went someplace, they'd want to take me too, because I'd tell them how to get there." Tommy paused. "Hmmm, except the grocery store. I don't like grocery shopping. That's boring."
Mrs. Blair slumped in her chair as a new realization sunk in. She promptly clicked off her iPad, pushed it to the side of the desk, and watched its screen go black. Thoughtfully, she looked at Tommy as she clasped her hands together under her chin and leaned forward on both elbows.
With a deep breath, she confessed. "Young man, you've taught me a valuable lesson today: putting our attention on people is much more important than staring at a computer all day. I like your imagination. You are a smart young man, and I think your parents should be very proud of you."
Tommy's heart jumped with gladness.
"But, you need to change how you treat others." She pointed her finger in the air and waved it with each command: "NO fighting, NO yelling, and MIND YOUR TEACHER. Got it? Treat-others-like-YOU-want-to-be-treated."
"Without phones!" Tommy chimed with a mischievous smile.
"Yes, Tommy," she grinned with a chuckle, "without phones."
Tommy left the office that day with a new purpose, looking forward to the next appointment with the counselor and his parents, with no phones allowed.
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