In honor of the beginning of a new school year, an old post about a former student!
Dook is a senior in our high school. He’s a character…a good old boy with a big old heart. He’s a hard worker when doing something he likes, but NOT a big fan of academic endeavors. Dook and I have an interesting relationship. Most mornings, if I’m out and about when he walks in, he says, Good morning, Mrs. Southern…I love ya. Sometimes he growls at me like a bear.
For the first few weeks, Dook took his time getting into the school groove and got behind in his work. At that point, I started laying down the law. We had a few rocky weeks. Finally one morning I was OVER it. Dook loves coming to the office and that particular day he stuck his head in my door about 9 a.m. and declared, Mrs. S…I’m signing out at 1:30. It was time for some tough love, so I turned in my chair and replied, You know what Dook, why don’t you go on and sign out now. You’re practically a grown man and if you don’t WANT to do what it takes to graduate in May, I apparently can’t make you.
He went back to class.
Two days later, my door was closed, so he went to my secretary and said, Will you please go tell Mrs. S. that I’m signing out at 1:00? She came around the back way to tell me and I replied loudly, No he’s not! I heard a growling sound through the door, but he went back to class and we had four really good weeks.
Around noon today, Dook was at my door. He started with, Mrs. S…you know I’ve been working really hard on my school work and I haven’t signed out a single time lately. I’m going to leave now.
Dook, I said, I know you’ve been working hard and I am VERY proud of you, but it’s Friday and school is out at 3:00. What in the world do you have to do between now and 3:00 that is so important?
Well, he countered pointing to his lower left jaw, these teeth have been bothering me when I eat anything hot or cold so I’m going to the dentist.
(Dook is not a good actor…)
Belle: What time is your appointment?
Dook: Well (pause) I don’t exactly have an appointment. I need to call.
Belle: Come on over here and use my phone. I don’t think you’re going to get a last minute appointment on a Friday afternoon but if you CAN, I won’t give you any grief about leaving. I wouldn’t want you to suffer with a toothache all weekend. That would be TERRIBLE!!! I’d worry about you ALL weekend long.
(I, on the other hand CAN act…)
Dook: Well (pause) I don’t have the number…it’s at home.
Belle (getting tired of the “wells”): For pete’s sake Dook, what’s the dentist’s name…I’ll look up the number.
Dook (putting his hand on his upper RIGHT jaw): Mrs. S…I know it’s hard to believe (he looks up at the ceiling) but I can’t remember the name of the dentist. Besides, I need to make sure it’s OK with my mama if I go.
ME: Come on and call her. She’ll know the name of the dentist. Get the good word from her and we’ll call for that appointment.
Dook: MRS. S….OK…PLEEEZE let me leave early because I’ve REALLY BEEN WORKING HARD!!!
Belle (all shocked like): Dook, are you telling me that you do NOT have a toothache????
Dook (looking at the floor): No ma’am.
ME: You almost had me there, pal. Tell you what…let’s split the difference. You can sign out at 1:30.
I growled back, but I was really smiling inside. Apparently, Dook has forgotten that, at 18, I can’t MAKE him stay if he really takes a mind to leave.
At 1:30, I was standing in the hall as he blazed by on his way out of the door.
Dook: Love ya, Mrs. S
ME: Right back atcha, Dook.
That boy is going to get a high school diploma on May 31, and I’m going to be the one handing it to him, probably through tears. The only person in that room who’ll be more proud will be his mama.