Vinnie’s Home For the Christmas Holidays
Vinnie steps off the school bus, he slings his backpack over his shoulders and takes off down the street toward home as if a pit bulldog is nipping at his heels. Vinnie’s mom stands on the front porch watching him. She starts waving when she sees Vinnie step off the school bus at the corner of Mulberry Street. Dexter, the family dog, strains at the leash she holds in her hand, his nose pointing toward Vinnie. Dexter has two likely thoughts, one his friend Vinnie is home. And, more importantly maybe Vinnie didn’t eat all his lunch and he’ll give him what’s left. All Dexter cares about is food, it doesn’t matter if it’s cooked, raw, vegetable, dairy, meat, or road kill. Dexter starts howling when he detects food in Vinnie’s backpack. He hits high notes Pavarotti only wishes he could have hit in his prime.
Vinnie waves his arm at his mom and starts calling out to her two from two houses down, “Mom, Mom”.
His Mom smiles, she knows why Vinnie is excited. It’s Friday, December 18th. Schools are on holiday break for Christmas and New Years.
Vinnie runs up onto the porch. Dexter, Vinnie’s portly beagle, rises to his hind legs and stands against Vinnie’s leg. Vinnie bends over and hugs him, “I’m home buddy. No school for two weeks. I think you want what’s left of lunch.”
Dexter doesn’t have a clue what Vinnie said. Dexter’s world is simple, uncomplicated. All Dexter wants is a little love and little food. Vinnie unslings his backpack, opens it and reaches inside and pulls out a bean and cheese taco. He holds it up and says, “Sit, Dexter.”
Dexter sits, his tongue hangs out nearly to his paws, his eyes, laser fixed on the half eaten taco. Vinnie says, “Shake.”
Dexter sticks out his paw. Vinnie grasps it and says, “Good boy, here’s your taco.”
Vinnie lets go of Dexter’s paw, hands Dexter the Taco who drops it and consumes in three point two seconds. Vinnie laughs and gives his mom a hug.
Vinnie says, “Hi, Mom. Dexter is such a good dog, I wanted to surprise him. Think Santa will see how good I am to share with Dexter?”
His Mom steps back, “I’m sure Santa saw your good deed. That was so nice of you, Vinnie. Did you get enough to eat at school?”
“Oh, yah, Mom. It was Joey’s birthday and his mom brought in cupcakes and bought pizza for the whole class.”
“That was fun,” said Vinnie’s mom.
“I’ve got great news, Mom. Wait until you hear what happened to me at school,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s Mom says, “Great news? Better news than being on vacation?”
“For sure, Mom. But you’ll have to wait to hear it. I’m going to do my chores, you won’t have to remind me. Then I’m going to clean my room.”
“This doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas coming up, does it Vinnie?” says his mom.
Vinnie gave his mom a surprised look. “Mom, Christmas is still a week away. I’m always good, right, Mom? Santa doesn’t remember the bad stuff does he?”
Vinnie’s mom shrugged, “We’ll have to wait to see.”
When do I get to see Santa. I need to talk to him. I’m not sure he knows what I want for Christmas. I want to make sure he doesn’t forget. The only one I’ve told is Rupert and Rupert knows how to keep secrets,” Vinnie says.
“Get your chores done. Then, come and have your snack and tell me all about the good news that happened at school. I can’t wait to hear about it.”
As Vinnie walks into his room, his mom calls out, “After you tell me your good news, I’ve got some good news for you.”
Vinnie glances back over his shoulder toward his mom, but she already is walking toward the kitchen. Vinnie drops his backpack on the floor and dives head first onto his bed. He grabs hold of Rupert his stuffed grizzly bear and squeezes him. “Hi Rupert, I escaped from school. I’m out for two weeks. I pulled off a good one at school today. When Joey’s mom brought the pizza in from Tosca’s Pizza, in one of the boxes there was a packet of the red hot pepper. I opened it and sprinkled it on Freddy’s piece of pizza. You should have heard him hollering. He was saying his mouth was on fire. Mrs. Navis said she was going to call Tosca’s Pizza and complain.”
Vinnie tosses Rupert up in the air and catches him. He sets him on his chest and looks into Rupert’s glass eyes. He says, “Rupert, you got to help me come up with a good story for Santa about how good I am. I hope he doesn’t check with Mrs. Navis or Dr. Crossman. I’m not sure they like me.”
Vinnie’s mom interrupts his conversation with Rupert, “Vinnie, how are the chores coming?”
“I’m cleaning my room, Mom,” Vinnie climbs off the bed, places Rupert on the center of his pillow and carries his backpack over to his desk. He sticks the backpack under the desk, glances at it and says, “I don’t want to see you for two weeks.”
Vinnie hollers, “I’m done cleaning my room, Mom.”
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.”