Friday, 9 April 2010

The Bottom Line

Friday. Winter. Late afternoon and getting dark. The phone rings.

"It's important," says Eldest passing it to me.

"It's your son's art teacher here," says a voice.


"Well, the thing is," she says, "actually it's rather embarrassing really, very embarrassing you might say, for your son and for me."

It's Notes On A Scandal.

"I'm ringing a few parents, to, er, well, to see if it was an accident or on purpose."

It really is Notes On A Scandal.

"Right." I say, rather inadequately.

I'm moving from the living room now PDQ - phone still jammed to my ear - heading upstairs and hearing myself muttering,

"Well, if this is a disciplinary issue, then, of course, I support you all the way."

"It was the worst clearing-up session I ever had!"

Maybe not Notes On a Scandal then. That's a relief. But what? To say my mind is boggling is an understatement. It's doing bloody cartwheels. I've never been called about his behaviour before. He's a good boy. E for excellent. Three Golden Awards at primary school. But what if this is the beginning of the end, the slippery slope? First the art teacher, then the police at the door...

Well, the thing is..." the teacher goes on.

Spit it out woman!

"At the end of the lesson on Wednesday, well...his trousers fell down."


I sit down on the bed.

"I mean, it must have been so embarrassing for him. I just didn't know where to look. Imagine if he had seen my underwear!"

Well, yes, but that is completely different, you are a grown woman while he is just a 13 year-old boy. (This, by the way, is what I'm thinking, it's not what I'm saying.)

"It caused quite a lot of disruption..."

I bet it did. The scene flashes before me. Eldest's newly acquired, rather tight fitting, Top Man boxer shorts - pink, with robots - suddenly exposed to a class full of hormonal teenagers. Of course he wasn't embarrassed, I bet he loved it.

Anyone who knows teenage boys must surely be aware of their rather ludicrous habit of wearing jeans or trousers low-slung under their bottoms. I imagine that Eldest temporarily lost control: either on purpose (naughty) or by accident (annoying). Either way it's surely not a big deal. Just tell him to pull them up - and get a belt.

I say this - in so many words - to the art teacher adding that she has my full backing to tell him off for wearing his trousers in the wrong place, and I will tell him also.

"Actually, he's just here if you want to speak to him," I suggest.

The teacher says she thinks that would be a good idea and so I hand the phone to Eldest. The ensuing conversation - from where I'm standing - goes something like this: yes, no, yes, silence, okay, yes...she wants to speak to you again.

"Thank you so much. I feel so much better about the whole thing!" gushes the teacher.

Well I'm glad someone does. (Again, this is a thought not an utterance.)

I put down the phone and look at Eldest.

"What?" he grins, "I was walking to the sink and I had glue on my hands! Would you rather I got glue on my trousers?"

I think, on balance, the answer to that is yes.

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