Letters to Holly

Monday, December 7

Today, My Favorite F-Word That Ends in K ...

is flunk, because the senior I mentored damn near guaranteed that he has.

A week ago today, he called me to say that he forgot to do any work on the comic during the Thanksgiving holiday (five days off of school). While he was on the phone with me, I could tell he was reading the template instructions for the first time. He set up a meeting time for 12:30 this Saturday at the library, at our usual time and place.

Your Sis and I arrived at 12:15. She had a book and found a corner to sit in. I usually sat outside to meet him, but it was cold and wet (not cold enough for us to get any of the snow that befell our mountains). I made sure to take the first visible seat inside the library, in the periodical section. I grabbed a Village Voice and waited. And waited. I wasn't bored, not with all those wonderfully tawdry advertisements. Man, I miss alt-weeklies.

He has never been on time for a meeting. We've had three of them. This was to be our fourth, the bare minimum required by the senior-project guidelines. After half an hour, I called him. Again, that was nothing new. At earlier meetings, I would wait 15 minutes and ring him up to see if he was en route. He's a teenager. I cut him some slack.

But this time he said that he was not en route. He had spent the night at a friend's house, and they were on their way to the dump. He still had to go back home, get the comic stuff, and get a ride to the library.

Me: Why didn't you call me to let me know?
Him: Uh ...
Me: Yeah. I'm wasting my time here, and my wife [a well-known teacher at this school] is here too wasting her time. When are you gonna be here?
Him: Uh ... ... ... ... uh ... ...
Me: Come on, be decisive. When are you going to be here?
Him: Maybe ... half an hour.
Me: I'll give you a half hour. You call me when you're on the way. Got that?
Him: Yeah?
Me: You're gonna call when you're on the way?
Him: Yeah.
Me: Bye.

I sat next to Your Sister and apologized for the delay. She smiled and went back to reading. I started sketching Wonder Woman because the fucking song won't leave my fucking head (get us out from under, Wonder Womaaaaaan). Travis came by to chat, and we caught up on the pregnancy and holiday plans. I told him that a kid was half an hour away from failing his senior year, and we traded stories from our days as lazy students.

The senior called me at 1:28.

Me: Hey, where are you?
Him: Um, well ...

Thereby hung a tale. He said he got home too late to get a ride from his mom, and he was trying to talk his dead into bringing him, and I'm relating this without the hundred of "uhs" and "ums" that signify bad lies and panic.

Me: So you're not coming?
Him: I'm really sorry I wasted your ...
Me: Yeah. Listen, I'm going home. You're gonna take all the stuff that's mine and whatever I need to sign to the school on Monday and give it to [Your Sister]. When I have it in hand Monday night, I'll call you to confirm I got it, and then I'll send back whatever I'm supposed to. Got that?
Him: Yeah. I'm really sorry ...

I repeated the directions and hung up. I went back to Your Sis and Travis. "Well, he just failed."

I had two emotions fighting for prominence: anger and disbelief. Disbelief was winning. I couldn't fathom, and still can't, that a kid would ask for such a fun project, get it approved, and then blow it by not doing any of the work. There are seniors learning how to rebuild engines, bake cakes, cut hair, learn EMT procedures -- real, actual toil. He was allowed to spend a semester sitting by himself and crafting a zombie story in comic form. And he blew it. My jaw can't hit the ground hard enough to create an appropriately loud crash. I have shock, and my shock has shock. My shock is sitting next to me on a bench, and we're looking at each other in shock.

I got home and emailed his teacher with the update. I was supposed to sign a form confirming we met the minimum amount of times for the appropriate hours. That didn't happen. He was supposed to take photos documenting our communal effort on his project. That didn't happen. I took pics of our first two meetings. I gave him assignments to move his project along cleanly. None of those happened.

Your Sister offered me ideas to meet with him or allow him to get the forms back from me earlier, and I shooed them away. He's gotten enough chances and benefits of doubt. He's screwed, and he has screwed himself.

He emailed me Sunday morning saying he needed the photos of our meetings. I replied that I would email them to him when I had all my stuff in hand Monday night. I don't think he realizes that I won't get them until around 8 tonight; Your Sis is hosting an AP lab and won't be home before then to give me whatever he brings to school. Either way, I have two photos of meeting with him. That's not enough for his project-related portfolio which he'll now be working on within 12 hours of the project's deadline. He didn't take any pictures, as was assigned. I thought I was being helpful, adding to the documentation he would provide. In the end, my few pics were the only documentation. Again, I refer to flunk.

As I told his teachers, I don't begrudge the senior project or resent volunteering to mentor. This had the makings of a fun project. Unfortunately, he thinks, as I did as an underclassmen, that he'll pass because teachers won't hold him accountable. He's too smart, too nice a kid. I grew out of that as a junior, thankfully before I took on projects that could ruin my senior year.

I honestly don't see how he can pass. I give him a 5% chance of it. I say that without joy. Hopefully, he'll learn from it. Double hopefully, this won't count against the next kid who wants to try a similar project. I'd be willing to help that kid. This senior, though, has met the end of my kindness.

+ + +

Your Sis had a rough week of indigestion. I blame a particularly rich weekend diet. She's hit the ravenous stage, and I am cautiously joining her, well aware that I will put on weight in a much sloppier fashion if I match her bite for bite. She slept a lot, even for her, this weekend.

We're at 12 weeks today. The baby book details the skin conditions she might experience and how to treat them. It also mentioned tests for cystic fibrosis. Roo should be at 2.5 inches from rump to head.

EDIT: I was wrong. He only had to meet me three times, but I was supposed to see his final product and sign off on it. That won't happen before he turns it in tomorrow.

Picture of the Day
The gay marriage rhetoric chart.

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