“Is that what you’re wearing?” Tommy said, his lip pulling upward in disgust.
I glanced down at the shirt I had on. It had an orange on the front with a glass of orange juice and the orange is looking at it going, “Mom?” I find it hilarious.
“Er...yes?” I answered. I was tempted to say something sarcastic like, “No, I just put it on for decoration,” but Tommy has Aspergers which means he takes everything literally. So had I said that, he’d have been all, “Decorations? Like Christmas?”
“Oh.” Tommy frowned.
“Is there a problem?” I asked impatiently. We were about ready to leave for his parent/teacher conference.
Tommy shuffled his feet. “It’s just, none of the other mothers wear shirts with fruit on it.”
That’s because they aren’t cool. I once saw one mother wear a collared shirt with a CARDIGAN tied around their neck. I thought only rich people did that on TV.
“It doesn’t really matter what I wear,” I insisted. I mean, my shirt could be worse. I have one that says “Save the trees, wipe your ass with an owl.” I’m smart enough to know that it’s not appropriate to wear in a school.
“It’s just, the oranges aren’t cool,” Tommy said primly. “The shirt isn’t cool. The glass of juice isn’t cool. The—”
I wasn’t about to stand there and be insulted so I cut in. “Hey, Randy Quaid, I get it. I’ll change.”
As I thundered up the stairs Tommy shouted, “Who is Randy Quaid?”
Parent/teacher conferences always make me a little nervous. I never know what the teacher is going to say about Tommy. In preschool it was mainly, “He won’t talk and he won’t sit during circle time. He prefers to do a dance.”
Well, sometimes I prefer to do a dance instead of sit.
Tommy and I waited outside of his classroom until the teacher called us back.
“Anything I should know?” I asked him.
“About...what the teacher might be telling me?”
Tommy opened his mouth to say something right as the teacher called us. Crap. What was he going to say? Was there a problem? When the teacher presented me with his report card and it had horrible grades on it, should I slam my fist down and screech, “I disagree!” Or should I sit there with a plastic smile on my face and mutter, “His grades are like this because he was dropped as a baby. My apologies.”
But it turns out I didn’t have anything to worry about. Tommy is doing great. His grades are mostly 3s (out of 4s), which means proficient. And his teacher raved how responsible he was. She did say that he got frustrated with his work sometimes and she’d notice tears in his eyes—so they are working on getting Tommy to raise his hand more and ask questions.
I relaxed a bit after I saw his report card.
“Great job, Tommy,” I said, as we walked back to the car.
I bent down and kissed his cheek.
“Mom!” Tommy wiped it off while his eyes darted around the parking lot.
“Oh, come on, I can’t wear oranges on my shirt and I can’t kiss you? What’s with all these rules?” I griped as I unlocked the car.
Tommy slid into his seat. “I’m getting big now,” he said matter-of-factly. “Soon I’ll be nine. And then ten.”
“So I guess you’re getting too old for me to massage your head,” I said.
“Well. You can still do that,” Tommy responded grandly. “And if you really want, in private, you can call me your baby.”
My heart melted a bit. “Thank you, baby.”