Is There Anybody Out There? II (Parent Teacher Conference)

"I was busy having a torrid affair with a twenty year old dug dealer."

My eight year old daughter Piper is Apparently in the accelerated level of the third grade. I hate that they give these kids labels, but hey if that's where she's supposed to be, I'm fine with it as long as she is too. She's fun to be around, that kid, she's a good one. Funny, bright, happy, she gets good grades and as far as I can tell she does well socially. I was surprised when the teacher called and asked me to come in for a conference. I couldn't imagine what could be going on in school. I suffered anxiety and unspecified guilt until it came time for our meeting. Once we began our discussion I discovered that the teacher wanted to speak with me because she was concerned that my daughter works very slowly and either doesn't finish her classwork or is usually the last student to finish. This, The teacher believes is caused by Piper being a perfectionist. I have to admit she does write with the penmanship of a kindergarten teacher, rarely spells anything wrong and uses juicy SAT type words in her sentences. Also she actually likes math! Is this cause for concern? She does have a diligent work ethic. She is somewhat of a perfectionist, however I haven't seen that to be causing her any stress or anything problematic. She just seems to like to do things the way she believes is correct. I sat there and listened to the teacher's concern sort of perplexed. I politely thanked her. As I was leaving I began to think about the types of things that might have been a cause for concern when I was young.

I remembered a time when my brother was Piper's age and I was twelve we were basically on our own. Particularly the summer when we were living in a little place at the beach on a coastal island. My mother worked on the mainland during the day and partied at night. She had us at a young age. We had all just been through her second divorce and she was about thirty years old. I suppose she needed some freedom at that point in her life. She didn't seem to have very much interest in us. My mother's twenty something year old step-brother, who spent most of his days at the beach, and I were supposed to be keeping an eye out for my brother and our cousin who was about the same age as my brother and his best friend. They both ran wild. My cousin's dad also partied at night at the beach and spent his work day on the mainland. I couldn't be bothered to keep an eye on my brother. I was busy having a torrid affair with a twenty year old drug dealer. Smoking dope with my friends, drinking vodka and lemonade and listening to Led Zeppelin while lying on the beach all day. I was twelve. Our main rules from my mother were to swim in front of the lifeguard and don't go for rides on anyone's boat. We usually met her by the ferry or at our place to have a little dinner of tuna and macaroni and pink lemonade. She made vats of each to keep us fed for the week.

One evening my mother's ferry was pulling in and from the top of the boat she could see my brother and cousin crawling out from under the dock. They usually made trips under there to score loose change and other low tide, smelly treasures that the tourists dropped. They weren't supposed to be doing this and were busted for it frequently. My mother yelled out at them, telling them to get the hell out of that muck. I didn't even know they were under there, great babysitter that I was I rarely knew what they were doing. As all the weekenders were disembarking from the ferry for a nice time at the beach they were assaulted by my brother complaining in a very loud voice. He screamed out to my mother that they had tried to go home but Sean (my mother's step-brother and 'babysitter') locked the door on them because he was inside fucking a girl with a tattoo on her pussy. He was eight.

Piper is eight, and her life, our life as a family couldn't be more different than the lifestyle my brother and I had. So her one big problem at the moment is that she is a perfectionist and works slowly in class. I think we'll be able to deal with this somehow. I know she has heard the word fuck plenty of times. Mostly, probably from me, I've got a filthy mouth. I'm pretty sure though she still thinks a pussy is a cat. And I am quite sure she's never been locked out of the house while someone was having sex. Being able to watch through the window for long enough to make out that there was a tattoo on someone's genitals. I appreciate the teacher's concern. I really do. But somehow I think we'll come out of this alright.

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