Monday, November 29, 2010

School Conferences........Oh. Dear.

The boy’s teacher said it so casually that it took a few moments for me to muster the appropriate shocked response.

“In all my 13 years of teaching I have never had a student make me want to crawl under a rock and hide.”

Oh. Dear.

My brain raced.

This sounded like it could be bad.

The teacher continued, “It was the first day of school. I had a new student that didn’t know anyone. I knew your boy from chess club last year. I knew he was a good kid. And so, I asked your boy to accompany the new student around during the first recess.

One hour into the new school year, in front of the entire class, your boy looked at me and refused. Without pause, he said, ‘No thanks. I’m not that good with people.’”

Oh. Dear.


This might be bad.

“Imagine my shock. One hour into the new school year. My authority already challenged. And… the new student. I’m sure the poor kid wanted to crawl under a rock too.”

Oh. Dear.

The teenager’s teacher said it so casually that it took me a few moments to realize she was serious.

“I’ve got a real problem with your teenager in my class.”

Oh. Dear.

My brain raced.

This sounded like it could be bad.

The teacher continued, “Your teenager is not living up to her potential in my class. She is not contributing like she should.”

Oh. Dear.


This might be bad.

“Imagine my shock when I read her first paper. She had wonderful, well thought out ideas. But, in class, she is very quiet and never speaks up. I need her to start speaking up and sharing her ideas with the class.”

Oh. Dear.

One kid spoke up. One kid never spoke.

When confronted, the boy who spoke up to the teacher explained, “What? It’s true. I’m very shy.”

When confronted, the teenager who never speaks in class explained, “What? I can’t believe she would say that! I’m a good kid. I don’t see what the problem is! I get good grades and I wish you would just get off my back. I don’t have time for this. I have too much homework. What is for dinner by the way? What? I’m so tired of pizza. Do we have any pasta? And do we have any cider left? That was some good stuff. You should get some more the next time you go to the store. Oh, by the way, basketball practice ends early tomorrow night. And guess what my friend told me. She twisted her ankle and might not be able to play. And she also said her cat just died. I told her that I was sick of my cat waking me up in the middle of the night. Hey! Can we turn the TV to ESPN? SportsCenter should be on. Boy I hope it snows. I really don’t want to go to school tomorrow. I have a test in history. Oh man. I can’t believe she said I need to speak up. I suppose it’s true though. I really don’t raise my hand at all. I’m very shy.”



Check This Out!

The newish Elton John/Leon Russell album, The Union, has been much enjoyed by the Slightly Exaggerated family in recent weeks. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the superstar John and the superstar of the past, Russell, have created what can only be called “good music”. Great songwriting, fabulous piano, and solid, interesting vocals make this an album you should definitely check out.

For more info:

Read this.

Or watch this.

Monday, November 15, 2010


When the girl in green ferociously hurled the teenager to the ground,
the crowd, though not at all surprised, managed to express a stunned gasp in response to the forceful attack. The crowd watched in anticipation as the teenager’s still body lay straddling the sideline of the soccer field-her legs on the inbounds turf, her head on the faded red track that encircled the field. As the battered teenager finally rose from the ground, her elbow had already started swelling, her hip had already started bleeding and the cleat impression on her leg had already started bruising. And when the teenager then proceeded to launch herself down the field after the ball, determination on her face, none of those injuries really seemed to matter to her at all.

It was a Saturday afternoon near the end of the soccer season when the teenager decided to paint her toenails. The homecoming dance was that evening and the teenager was attempting a metamorphosis from tough athlete in worn out sweatpants to refined princess beauty in sparkly dress. The teenager looked down at her toes. The nail polish had managed to cover the black, half dead, toenails stomped on all season by opponents’ cleats.

She looked up at her mother, a bit surprised, and muttered, “We just might be able to pull this off.”

The teenager with the recent flu shot looked at her arm. She was pleased to see that the promised redness and swelling had not materialized. She shaved her legs, evaluated her leg bruises and watched the biggest scab on her knee wash down the shower drain.

The teenager with athlete’s foot was relieved to see that the cream had finally worked and the nasty bruise on the top of her foot had faded. Rough elbows were lotioned and she was able to rid herself of another scab. She had refused tanning lotion and pondered whether her farmer’s tan from her soccer shirt was visible. She ran her fingers through her conditioned hair. The sweat was gone for now. The scrapes on her hands, from the last time she had been thrown down, were nearly invisible.

The hairstylist took one look at the teenager’s hair and declared, “Honey, you definitely need some texture.” The teenager replied, “Can you make me girly?”

The mother attempting to put on the teenager’s, hopefully tasteful makeup declared, “You do know I’m not very good at this, right?” The teenager replied, “Just don’t make it too obvious, OK. Remember, I’m not used to wearing all of this crap on my face.”

The teenager that wiggled into the sparkly dress had to do so carefully. She didn’t want to aggravate her hamstring pull again. When she leaned against the bathroom counter to put on her earrings she had to avoid resting on her sore hip. As she poked at her ears, she prayed her ear piercings hadn’t closed up. And as that teenager walked downstairs in her strappy, high heeled sandals, with a death grip on the stair railing for balance, she hoped her sprained ankle was fully healed.

The proud father that watched the sparkly princess come down the stairs had to hold his emotions in. He couldn’t believe how fast 16 years had gone by. He remembered how tiny and bruise free she was when she was born. The boy wondered what the heck had happened to his older sister. She walked by him without punching or teasing him.

The mother with the camera hoped her heart wouldn’t burst.

She remembered everything.

Every day.

Every moment.

Every second.

The mother took the pictures.

Too many of them. Over and over.

The teenager wanted to be done. She wanted to sit down.

The father and the mother and the brother watched the sparkly princess-athlete-teenager gingerly walk on her unfamiliar high heels, over to the old, worn chair to sit down.

That sparkly teenager, in a dress, plopped in that old chair and spread her legs wide, like only a NFL linebacker could. She planted her 3” heels on the wood floor and lay back in the chair to relax for awhile.

The mother, appalled, scolded the teenager, “Oh honey, if you’re going to dress like a lady, you must learn to act like a lady. You must put your legs together. And please, cross your ankles. It’s the proper way.”

The sparkly princess-athlete-teenager grinned back at the concerned mother and announced, “It’s OK mom, I’ve already thought of that. That’s why I’m wearing my Under Armour spandex shorts underneath my dress. That way, I can sit any way I like and it won’t ever be a problem.”

The teenager then lifted her dress to show the family that despite the sparkles and the hair and the makeup and the heels, she wasn’t quite ready to cross over, completely, to the girly side.

The father dropped his head in fatherly shame.

The boy grinned in brotherly amusement.

The mother, of course, documented the moment in pictures that were soon deleted. After all, the family must maintain some minimal positive reputation.

The teenager, finally ready for her first homecoming dance, could only think of one thing. “I wonder if I’ll be the starting point guard on the JV basketball team this year…”

Check This Out!

We here at Slightly Exaggerated have finally jumped on the Stieg Larsson bandwagon. We've read the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire. While initially slow, the books soon became impossible to put down. Definitely R rated, these mystery thrillers easily lived up to their hype. Now, I just need someone to loan me their copy of the third book. Now. Please.

While reading these books, the Slightly Exaggerated family enjoyed a turkey, red pepper and blue cheese on sourdough toasted sandwich. The sandwich was almost as good as the book. You should really try it.