Vinnie picks up Rupert and holds Rupert in front of his face. Rupert faces Vinnie’s mom. Rupert says, “Vinnie thinks it’s better if you hear it from me since you never get mad at me and make me stay in my room.”
Vinnie’s mom blurts, “Put Rupert down, Vincent.”
Vinnie sets Rupert down. He looks at Rupert, “You did your best, Buddy. Thanks for trying.”
Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes. She says, “Did you get sent to see Dr. Cashman today?”
“Honest, Mom. I never saw Dr. Cashman today. I heard her give announcements in the morning and just before school got out.”
“I think there is something you’re not telling me,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“About what, Mom?” asks Vinnie dropping two celery sticks covered with cream cheese to Dexter. Dexter is on the two cream cheese covered celery sticks like a shark on a wounded fish.
“Do you mean how many times I got sent to the office?” asks Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom feels the urgent need to meditate, deep breath, practice yoga, go for a twenty-mile run, have a glass of wine, or all the above. She says, “Vinnie, I promised I wouldn’t get mad. Tell me everything.”
“Can I tell you the good stuff first, Mom?”
Vinnie’s mom nods and silently prays for patience and strength.
Vinnie says, “I got one hundred on a math quiz. I scored a 95 on vocabulary and it would have been one hundred but I misspelled misspell. That’s funny, right, Mom?”
Vinnie’s mom forces a smile, “Did you use one s instead of two s’s?”
“I got the s’s right, Mom. I only used one L. Can I go do my homework now?”
Vinnie’s mom is thinking the bad stuff has really got to be bad. She tries some self-talk, “Okay, Marti, you can do this. You didn’t get an email, text, or phone call from the school so how bad can it be?” Vinnie’s mom says, “No, I want to hear about the stuff that wasn’t so good.”
“Oh, that stuff. It’s not important, Mom. Can I go to Joey’s house and we can do our homework together?”
“I already told you, you are not going to Joey’s house and ruining your meal. Now, tell me the rest of the stuff.”
“Okay, Mom. I got sent to the office three times. . ..”
“What? Three times? What did you do?” says Vinnie’s mom.
“That was only in the morning, Mom. I got sent to the office two more times in the afternoon. Honestly, I didn’t do anything bad. As soon as I got to the office Mrs. N sent me back with a note. Even Mr. Doolittle said asking questions wasn’t in the discipline code. He took me back to the class the last time and after I sat down, he called Mrs. Mavis into the hallway. I don’t know what they talked about. I only got put in timeout after that.”
“Was that so hard?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“A little bit. Can I go to Joey’s house now?”
“How many times do I have to tell you, you are not going to go to Joey’ house tonight?”
Vinnie glances at Rupert. He picks Rupert up and sticks Rupert’s mouth close to his ear. Vinnie nods his head. He sets Rupert down and turns toward his mom. “Rupert says about seven more times.”
Vinnie’s mom takes a deep breath. “Tell me about the oral history project.”
“That’s what got me in trouble, Mom.”
“What did you do? How did you get in trouble?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie brushes the remaining three celery sticks off his plate onto the floor in front of the world’s most patient beagle. Dexter scoops and swallows in three point two seconds.
“Mrs. Mavis gave us a sheet with the questions we can ask two family members. I asked if I can ask different questions and ask more than two family members. She said, ‘No.” I asked “why” and she sent me to the office.”
“She sent you to the office for asking those questions? Are you sure you didn’t do anything else?”
“Well, I asked if the class could vote on my idea?”
“And . . .”
“Mrs. Mavis said no.”
“I said that’s not fair.”
Vinnie’s mom decides she needs an appointment with Dr. Sampson, her psychologist. She wonders if Dr. Sampson will ask her to take Rupert with her.
Vinnie interrupts his mom’s thinking, “It can’t be that bad, Mom. You didn’t get any emails from school. Can I go to Joey’s house, Mom? Please? I promise I won’t ruin my dinner. I’m going to help Joey with his math.”
Vinnie’s mom says, “Okay, but you promised you’ll eat the wonderful meal I’m making tonight.”