Vinnie’s World ~ Vinnie Can’t Help But Being Cool


My Gramps was telling Mom one time somethings stay with you all your life. I think this is one of those things. I knew it was all over as soon as Dr. Crossman sent Billy into the office. Billy was going to crack faster than an egg when my mom makes my dad his Sunday omelet. When Billy walked into the office, I thought I could hear him crying. The door closed behind Billy. Dr. Crossman stayed in the hallway staring at my beautiful drawing. I had to think fast. Since I am too smart for my own good, my mind traveled faster than the rocket roller coaster at the amusement park.

 I figured the office secretary probably put handcuffs on Billy and was threatening to call the police. Strangely, Dr. Crossman was still studying the drawing. She flips it over, probably looking for a clue as to who drew it. I wonder if she wants me to sign it. It might be famous one day. She can take it on the Antiques Road Show and have it appraised. It is a genuine Vinnie.

I decide it’s time to make my get away. I take a deep breath and walk past her. As I’m walking past her I I say, “I hope you had a nice day, Dr. Crossman. If no one told you, you look very nice.” Some day I’ll learn to keep quiet and not try to be so cool. 

Dr. Crossman glances up from the drawing. She says, “Vincent, you’re William’s best friend if I’m not mistaken.”

I answer, “Oh, he has lots of friends. I wouldn’t say I’m his best friend. I’m Rupert’s best friend. Rupert is home schooled.”

Dr. Crossman points a finger at me, “You know what I mean. In my office, Vincent.”

I’ll spare you the details. Billy cried and cried. It was pathetic. He didn’t even hold out for one minute. He said I drew the picture and showed it to him and asked him if wanted to drop it by the office door. I knew if I told Dr. Crossman the truth, she wouldn’t believe me. So I didn’t tell her Billy wanted to drop the drawing. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Dr. Crossman said, “I’m going to call your mother, Vincent.”

I said, “She’s having a conference with Mrs. Navis. You probably don’t want to bother her.”

Dr. Crossman left Billy and me in her office. She kept her door open and told the secretary Olga Patterson to check on us. Ms. Patterson looks like she could play football for the Patriots. Nobody messes with her. She really runs the school. Twenty minutes later, although it seemed like two hours, Dr. Crossman, Mrs. Navis, and Mom come into the principal’s office. Dr. Crossman tells Billy to go home. She tells him she is going to email his mother. Billy starts crying again. 

I don’t want to go into the gory details. How would you feel if you were eight years old and you had three old adults taking turns picking on you? Here’s a sample of what went on. Doctor Cross sits behind her desk. I sit in a chair in front of her desk. Mom sits in a chair to my right and Mrs. Navis sits in a chair to my left. I am surrounded with no chance for escape.

Dr. Crossman has my drawing on her desk. She is staring at it. I almost start laughing. I bite the inside of my cheeks to stop from laughing. Doctor Crossman looks at me and says, “Vincent, blah, blah, blah and blah.”

Mom and Mrs. Navis nod their heads. They agree with every blah, blah, and blah Dr. Crossman said.

Mrs. Navis takes her turn. She turns to Mom, “Vincent is too smart. He blah, blah and blahs and blahs.”

Mom agrees with Mrs. Navis and Dr. Crossman and blah blah and blahs back to them. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. I keep nodding my head, saying I’m sorry, and promising to try harder. I sit on my hands so they couldn’t see I was keeping my fingers crossed. I’m hoping by the time I get home, Mom will calm down enough to be reasonable. When everyone is finished working me over, Mom marches me out to the car. I get in the passenger side and buckle my seat belt. I didn’t want to take any chances she might be tempted to toss me out the door.

When Mom gets in the car, she buckles her seat belt and turns to me, “Not one word. Not one single word.”

I let her start the car and pull out of the school parking lot. Then she starts up, again. “Vincent. You failed your math test. You made fun of Dr. Crossman. When Dad comes home the three of us are going to have a very serious talk about school.”

I didn’t want to get ground up again. I say, “Mom, Dad works so hard every day. Don’t ruin his day. I’m sorry. I promise to study harder. I will get a hundred on the next math test.”

Mom says, “You’ll do better than that. There is no tablet, no Playstation, no playtime with Joey when you come home until I see lots of improvement. And, I want a promise, no more drawing of Doctor Crossman or any other teacher. Do I hear a promise and no fingers crossed. Don’t think I didn’t notice you sitting on your hands in Doctor Crossman’s office. I knew what you were doing.”

“I promise, Mom,” I said. I showed her my uncrossed fingers, but I crossed my toes at the same time. You might wonder what lessons I learned from all of this. I’m still trying to figure that out. It’s too bad parents don’t remember how boring school was when they went to school. I’m in third grade. I have nine more years of school. Then it’s four years of college. Mom and Dad are already talking about graduate schools for me. I can’t wrap my head around it. All I want to do is ride my skateboard, play football and basketball with my friends, and play Mind Craft on my tablet. 

As for Billy, he’s still my friend. I’m not mad at him. If Doctor Crossman hadn’t come out of the office right after Billy dropped my drawing, it would have worked. I’ll think of something else, but it will have to wait until everyone forgets about today. 

As for today, I’ll go home, do all my math homework and study my spelling words. I’ll try a lot harder. When you’re getting all A’s parents forget about the other stuff. I know Mom will be watching me and she’ll check every answer. She’s really a nice Mom. I’ll ask her if I can go to Joey’s after I finish. I think she’ll say yes. I’m lucky to have Mom and Dad.

Vinnie’s World ~ Vinnie’s Convinced Cramming Is The Best Way to Study



Our school lockers are in the hall outside the classroom. I have to leave my backpack, coat if it is cold and lunch if I bring it in my locker. We can only bring in our homework folders into class. If you bring a cell phone, Mrs. Navis will take it away and your parents have to come to school to get it back. 

I walk in the classroom pretending nothing is bothering me and I am confident about the math test. Mrs. Navis is busy at her desk. I walk up to her and say, “Good morning, Mrs. Navis. You really look nice today.” 

I keep my fingers crossed under my homework folder because Mrs. Navis never looks nice. 

Mrs. Navis looks up at me, I think she’s cross eyed. She says, “Are you prepared for your math test, Vincent?”

How do you like that, she didn’t even say thank you for the compliment I paid her. They should teach teachers to be polite. I say, “I studied until Mom made me turn off the light.”

I don’t know why Mrs. Navis always gives me a look that says, ‘I don’t believe you.’ Okay, so I stretched the truth a little. I am trying to remember what she taught, but I think my brain is playing on a different app. I really am pretty smart. 

Mrs. Navis told Mom at a parent teacher conference that I was too smart for my own good. She said things come too easy to me. Mom came home and told me to study more. When Mom told me what Mrs. Navis said, I said, “Mom, how can I be too smart?”

Bad move on my part. Mom went on and on explaining what Mrs. Navis meant. I didn’t listen to Mom. I smiled and made eye contact and kept nodding. All the while I was thinking of a skateboarding trick I was going to try. I think I might want to be an actor when I grow up.

I turned from Mrs. Navis and walked to my desk. I sit down and take out my sat at my math notebook. I review the problems we had for homework. I look at the practice sheets we did in class. I think this is what college students call cramming. By the time I get to college, I will be an expert at cramming. It makes sense. Why waste play time studying when you can cram it all in right before a test?

My cramming is interrupted by Mrs. Navis’ voice. I think she has a cold. I hope she goes home sick. No luck. She put a cough drop in her mouth and says, “Children, put away your study sheets. Get your pencils out. I’m going to pass out the math tests to you. Do not start working on them until I tell you to begin. Now, do your own work. Do not look at your neighbor’s work.”

This is where I get confused. At least three times a day, Mrs. Navis tells us how important it is to cooperate with each other, now she is telling us not to cooperate with each other. Adults don’t know what they are talking about. No wonder so many kids have problems. I looked to my right and smile at Sheila. I look to my left and see Jeffrey chewing his fingernails. Poor guy, his parents want him to go to Harvard. All he does is read and study. A fun summer for him is math camp. I wouldn’t trade families with Jeffrey for anything.

I fold my hands and smile. I’m giving Mrs. Navis the impression I’m ready for the test. Actually, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Michelle, in front of me, turns and passes me my copy of the test. 

I said, “Good luck, Michelle.” She sticks her tongue out at me. I think she’s still mad at me for writing a note to her telling her she was cute. I signed the note Toby. Sheila saw me put the note on Michelle’s desk and ratted on me. I had to miss recess and write two-hundred times, I will not pass notes. 

Mrs. Navis spoke, “Children you have twenty minutes for your test. When you are finished, raise your hand and I will come by and collect your test.”

I decided not to finish the test until Mrs. Navis says there is only one minute to go. If I finish too soon, she’ll correct right away. There are twenty problems. The first question is easy: What number is the same as two hundred fifty-five? A. 245 B. 255 C. 542 D. 452.  The second question is even easier. Which number is made up of 6 hundreds 8 tens and 4 ones? A. 644 B. 684 C. 468 D. 846. They got tougher after that. Mrs. Navis made them all multiple guess. That made it a lot easier for me. I finished in ten minutes. I’m too smart for my own good so I decided I didn’t need to go over my test and check my answers. I turned my test over and put my pencil on top of it. I sat up with good posture. Mrs. Navis is always telling us sit up straight. I hope she tells Mom I have good posture. Good posture has to count for something.

I was thinking about climbing the big oak tree in back of the house when I hear the voice of doom, “Vincent, have you completed your test?”

I look up, “Yes, Mrs. Navis. I going to review it for the third time in just a moment. Mom is always telling Dad how important it is to clear your mind. That’s what I was trying to do.”

“You only have two minutes, Vincent. When are you going to check it?”

“I’m really, very good at math, Mrs. Navis. As soon as you walk away, I’m on it,” I say. I amaze myself how I can make this stuff up on the spot.

“Well, okay,” she says and turns around. Then she says, “One more minute.”