Vinnie Tells the Class to Hold the Applause


Vinnie’s mom momentarily closes her eyes and prays a Hail Mary. She opens her eyes, looks at Vinnie who’s holding the nearly empty bowl of almond avocado within reach of Dexter. Dexter, apparently, thinks almond avocado pudding is a snack to tide him over for the next five minutes. 

“Vincent, I did not make the pudding for Dexter,” says Vinnie’s mom wishing after she said it she used a more gentle tone.

Vinnie still holding the bowl down while Dexter swirls his tongue around whatever almond avocado molecules still exist, smiling, looks up at his mom and says, “We both like it, Mom. That’s great, right?”

Vinnie’s mom thinks, I cannot stay upset with him. I want to be upset, but I can’t. She says, “Let’s not talk about the pudding, what happened at school, today?”

“You didn’t promise you won’t be mad at me,” says Vinnie picking up a piece of apple.

“Yes, I promise. Because I promise, doesn’t mean we won’t talk about it,” says Vinnie’s mom. She thinks her psychologist will be happy to hear how she responded to Vinnie. 

“Where do you want me start, Mom? Do you want me to start as soon as I got in the classroom. Or, do you want me to only talk about the science project?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom takes a deep breath. She’s imagining the email she’s going to get from Mrs. Navis. She secretly hopes she doesn’t have to meet with Mrs. Navis, the principal, and counselor again. 

“How many times did you get sent to the office?” Vinnie’s mom asks.

“Only once, Mom. But, it wasn’t for behavior. It was to get some supplies for Mrs. Navis. I think she wanted to get me out of the classroom for a little while.”

“That’s good news,” says Vinnie’s mom leaving out the ‘I think.’

“Let’s talk about the science project and what you told the class,” says Vinnie’s mom preparing herself for the worst.

“First, Mom, you might get an email from Mrs. Navis because I told Joey to capture a rattlesnake and train it for his science project.”

“Oh dear, why did you do that? You know rattlesnakes are poisonous?” says Vinnie’s mom with a raised level of alarm in her voice.

“I was going to help Joey, Mom. I thought we could catch a garden snake and use magic markers to make it look like a rattlesnake. Mrs Navis freaked out. I think she’s afraid of snakes,” says Vinnie feeding Dexter the last piece of apple with peanut butter. 

Dexter believes humans eat strange food, but if it’s chewable it’s good for beagles.

“What about your project, Vinnie?” asks his mom afraid to find out more about Vinnie’s school day.

“When it was my turn, Mom, I walked to the front of the class. Everybody else talked about their science project from their desks. Mrs. Navis told me to go back to my seat. I said I need to be in front of the class so everyone would hear me. She told me to go ahead and not to take too much time.”

“It seems like you handled it okay. What did you tell the class?”

“Can I stand up to show you how I did it?”

Vinnie’s mom feels like a big rock dropped into the pit of her stomach. She says, “Okay.”

Vinnie hops down from breakfast bar stool. Dexter, deftly moves out of the way. Vinnie steps away from the breakfast bar. Vinnie’s mom swivels on her stool and faces Vinnie.

Vinnie stretches both arms over his head, his palms facing his mom, “No applause, please. No applause, please.”

Vinnie’s mom forces herself not to laugh.

Vinnie says, “That’s as far as I got before I got sent to time out. Mrs. Navis sent me to time out because the whole class was laughing. I wasn’t laughing.”

The email arrival sound goes off on Vinnie’s mom’s laptop. 

“Vinnie says, “That’s probably Mrs. Navis’s email. Can I go to Joey’s house for an hour. I’ll do my homework when I come back, promise.”

Vinnie’s mom nods and says, “One hour, not a second more.”

Vinnie’s mom twists around to the breakfast bar and slides her laptop in front of her. She opens the email app and stares at an email from Mrs. Navis.

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