Sitting together after dinner, Greg, Harry’s dad, is channel surfing on the flatscreen and Harry, a seventh grader, is playing a game on his iPad.
“Dad, did my science teacher call or email you today?”
“No. No communications from school,” Greg replies as he clicks the TV off and faces Harry. “You, okay?”
“I’m pretty sure my science teacher heard me mutter the “S” word under my breath when he announced new partners today. He put Peyton and me together. Earlier when we were doing test corrections, he came by and told me he appreciated my positive attitude. It was a set up. Bam! I get the worst kid in class for my partner!”
“You’re angry about this,” Greg comments gently.
“Yes. Why do teachers think putting the worst kid with a good kid is going to help the good kid? I’m a good kid and I get punished!”
“You’ve got a point.”
“I wouldn’t mind once in a while, but every stinkin’ time this happens to me!”
“Harry, you feel stuck,” Greg empathizes.
“That’s exactly how I feel. It’s not fair.”
“I’m sorry. What are you going to do, Harry?”
“I’ve got no options, dad.” Harry’s face reddens. “Mr. Kennedy said no changes and no complaining. He looked at me when he said ‘do your best’.”
“Those instructions are clear, Harry. You have a way of getting people to work together. I’ve seen you collaborate with your brother.”
“I will have to figure it out,” Harry nods at his dad.
“You’re a good leader, Harry. You’ll make it work.”
Greg taps Harry on the leg and looks at him. “Now, about the ‘S” word, Harry. If you use language the school forbids, they, and I, will have to deal with it. I’d rather not have to do that. Will you agree to control what comes out of your mouth? I know it is not easy. Can you do that?
“I know you will.” Greg reaches around Harry’s shoulder and hugs him.