High school royalty–the cheerleaders and the football team (lined up in the back of the field, preparing to run forward as their names are called to grunt their power at last night’s Meet-the-Team at the high school stadium). I was such a wallflower in high school, I would have been afraid to talk to any of these people. Somehow I have produced one of them. And yet….
In elementary school, 14 always finished his work too fast and found trouble. They sent home a sheet every day with apple stamps–green for good, red for not so good, black for bad, very bad. 14 had a lot of rotten apples on his sheets. By second grade, he had a teacher who helped him channel his excess energy into reading all the Harry Potter books then available from cover to cover in the corner of the classroom and got him placed in a gifted class in third grade. By fifth grade, he engaged in geekball extracurricular activities like chess club and building robots. Now he’s a popular football player, entering high school as a bonafide member of its royal pantheon. How did that happen? And he still makes straight A’s–even though he loses all his homework, somehow, between the bus and school. He has a tendency to lose things. Luckily, his head is attached. He lost his sports physical between the car and the fieldhouse a few weeks ago and there was a last-minute rush to get a copy so he could start practice.
Last week, he told me he lost all his underwear. Now, if you think this is impossible, that’s only because you haven’t met 14. He went away for the weekend and I called him from a store to ask him if he wanted boxers or briefs. He said, “You don’t need to get me any underwear, I got some.” I bought him underwear anyway. When he came home, he said, “Oops, I forgot all my new underwear in North Carolina.” I said, “THAT’S WHY I BOUGHT YOU UNDERWEAR ANYWAY.” I gave him his new underwear. He got in the car the next day to go to practice and a mile down the road, he said, “We have to go home. I forgot to put on my underwear.” Yesterday he needed to boil his football mouthpiece. Goofy as he is, I had a brief thought–I should get the pot out for him. But no, he is 14 and he is a very smart boy. Surely he can boil water on his own. I got in the shower, came back out, walked into the kitchen.
He’d boiled his mouthpiece in a skillet.
The cool kids aren’t perfect. They’re still human. If only I’d known that in high school. They put their shoes on one at a time, just like the rest of us. Unless you’re 14 and you can’t put your shoes on at all because you’ve lost them….