La Professeur de Francais et de la Vie avec Teenager

(Cassie enters Max’s bedroom. Max is sprawled atop his bed in usual fashion. He is surrounded by books but none is open. He is furtively texting someone.)

Cassie: I met with your French teacher.

Max: Yea? Whoop-de-doo for you.

Cassie: Right off the bat with the sass?

Max: Yup. You didn’t need to meet with her. But you did it anyway. Everything’s under control and I’m really annoyed–

Cassie: If you’d let me finish…that’s exactly what SHE said to me….that everything’s under control. She thinks you’re a great student, that you may be having a little trouble with conjugation and the verbs but everyone’s having trouble with that. With the grammar.

Max: I hate grammar.

Cassie: Yes. I know. She said SHE hates it too, but that once you get through this part, once you’re done with this year of French (building the foundation) it gets much easier. She said this French II class is one of the hardest at the school. After this year—

Max: There isn’t going to be a next year. I don’t like French. I hate French. I don’t get it at all.

Cassie: Well, she showed me one of your tests and she feels that, in fact, you do “get it” quite well…better than some of the sophomores in the class, even. She said you are doing well enough and maybe with a little extra time, if you mastered more of the verb tenses like the past perfect and some more of the grammar in general, you could really be a skilled linguist.

Max: (laughing) A skilled linguist? Ahhh….NO. What a joke.

Cassie: I told her what Dad said….that you just needed to fall for a French girl and then….

Max: You didn’t.

Cassie: Ummm….

Max: Oh. My. God. (Pause) What else?

Cassie: What else what?

Max: What other goofy, nerdy, problematic things did you say to her? About me? About my life?

Cassie: Max, when you start throwing out nasty comments about giving up on a class, you leave us no choice but to check in with the teacher—

Max: And she said there was nothing wrong….right? Except with some of the grammar.

Cassie: Yes. Right. She said that if ever there were a real problem, she’d go to you first—

Max: See?!

Cassie: AND THEN to the parents.

Max: What else did you chat about?

Cassie: Well, she clearly thinks you’re a great kid, that you have a lot of potential for languages, that because of your facility for music and math, you have the right kind of brain, a good ear, for linguistics.

Max: Really.

Cassie: Yes, really.

Max: Are you two friends now? I can tell you got all bonded and shit. Oh my God. This is the end of me in French. This doesn’t set the right tone for high school. Not at all. You going off to have tea with my teachers.

Cassie: Pffft. We didn’t have tea. She said she missed your card tricks, though….that you haven’t been doing the card tricks during the breaks.

Max: That was last semester. (Pause.) Anything else? (Loud sighing.)

Cassie: What do you mean?

Max: I should know what else was discussed….about ME.

Cassie: Nothing else, really. Oh, I asked about whether we should get you a tutor.

Max: (rolling his eyes dramatically) And?

Cassie: She said rather emphatically, that no, it would be a waste of time and money. She said that a little extra time going over verb tenses on your own, or with her during a tutorial period, was all you needed.

Max: Great.

Cassie: I think I may have also asked about study groups.

Max: You what?!!

Cassie: You know, groups of students studying the hard stuff together, particularly the grammar. You help each other out.

Max: Mom! She’ll totally do that now. That’s just great. Did anyone see you go into her classroom?

Cassie: What? I don’t know. I don’t think so. It was 8:30 in the morning. Everyone was in first period. There were a couple of students who maybe saw me leave her classroom…but I’m sure they didn’t know who’s mother I am.

Max: (blinking rapidly at me) This is really quite an invasion of my life at school. Listen, I’m not flunking. I’m doing well enough.

Cassie: Yes. That’s exactly what Madame L said. She thinks it’s cool that you are involved in so many other outside activities like trumpet and lacrosse. The fact that you aren’t just school, school, school and grades, grades, grades all the time makes her happy. She said YOU seem very happy. She told me to chill, so I guess I will.

Max: See? The teacher said YOU need to chill.

Cassie: Yes. She did.

Max: And you’re going to?

Cassie: I’m going to TRY. And if Dad and I give you more space and stop checking in all the time about your grades and how much homework you have, will you KEEP TRYING? Don’t say things like, “I give up!” or “I don’t care!” in that snotty, dismissive voice you use on us so often lately! When you say things like that, we get worried. We’re your parents and we still need to oversee the progression of the Max story.

Max: No you don’t.

Cassie: Sorry, but yes we do. We’ll do it more loosely, but we’re still going to oversee in the background.

Max: Uh huh.

Cassie: I mean it, Max.

Max: I heard you.

Cassie: Ca va bien. Merci.

Max: My God!

Cassie: Don’t you mean “Mon Dieu?”

(Silence. No smiling. End of the French discussion. Cassie leaves Max’s bedroom.)

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