Topic: "If you have come here to help me, you are wasting both our time"
Keywords: fiction, teen, family troubles, alternative school, Internet, fandom, narrator with capslock problem
NOTE: This is a slightly-revised excerpt from a longer work, which is written entirely in blog posts, emails, chat logs, etc. I hope this section can stand alone. The narrator is a 15-year-old named Jane with a bit of an Internet dependency problem.
Security level: Private
OMG so on the subject of things I CANNOT EVEN DEAL WITH IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, Mrs. Baker has apparently decided it is her job to RUIN MY LIFE COMPLETELY. Because under the guise of "helping" (*helping!*) me she got the school administration to call my dad. She TOLD THE ADMINISTRATION I AM NOT PARTICIPATING IN MATH CLASS and then the administration GOT MS. MEISNER THE DIPPY SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER to CALL MY DAD, and I HATE MS. MEISNER, I’ve been stuck in counseling with her all year and SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY AND SHE CALLED DAD AND NOW HE’S ALL FREAKED OUT AND
I think I had better calm down and try to get rid of some of these capital letters.
Look. I’m not going to pretend I participate in math class, okay? It’s true. I don’t. But this is REALLY NOT A PROBLEM, and Mrs. Baker hadn’t gotten half her brain left behind when they beamed her down from Planet Helmet-Hair, she’d know it. I mean, this is friggin' Spectrum Alternative High. I have never before met a teacher who could not understand the concept that Spectrum is *not a mainstream school*. If anything, the teachers and staff go the other way; I mean, half of them seem to have a whole lot of trouble with the concept that "behavioral problems and/or learning disabilities" is not the same thing as "psychotic disorders and/or developmental disabilities." They usually treat us like we’re all either potential school shooters or afflicted with Down’s Syndrome until they’ve been here at least six months. Still, they tend to look at all our personalized IEPs and "reasonable accommodations" and psych profiles and goals-and-standards sheets with an almost religious awe, and you can bet that they never forget for an instant that we’re not "normal". At Spectrum, there are kids who have tantrums in the middle of class, who do drugs in the bathrooms between classes, who get in fights, all sorts of disruptive stuff. Two days ago Joe Collins all but kicked his desk over *in Mrs. Baker’s class* before he stormed out of the room in the middle of a lecture on linear equations. Me, I go to my classes, and I sit at my desk. I pay attention in the classes that matter to me and engage in "independent study" (i.e., reading and writing) in the classes that don’t. Then I do end-of-term theses of my choice, eventually, and that’s where my grades come from. No one has EVER had a problem with this before. God, I’m like a model student by Spectrum standards. Sure, I wouldn’t be one in a mainstream school, but that’s why I’m not IN a mainstream school.
And then Mrs. Baker goes and – and what is she doing? She’s reporting to the administration that I don’t do my homework, for starters. And, I mean – *homework*? Who cares about homework? She should be glad I’m not kicking over desks in the middle of class. And then, even better! Mrs. Baker told the administration I’m being "withdrawn" and "uncooperative" in class! My God! Withdrawn and uncooperative! The horror, the horror!
I mean, I just... I do not understand why Mrs. Baker felt the need to involve my father in this. Honestly. I cannot even begin to imagine where that idea came from. My father is just – look, he has enough stress in his life. Just a couple of days ago Ever After and Never Been Kissed were airing at the very same time on different cable channels, and two weeks before that Everyone Says I Love You, which he’s *never even seen omg*, was airing on a pay channel that we don’t get. He is more obsessed with Drew Barrymore than I have ever been with Look to Tomorrow, and he has not yet come out of mourning. He does not need to be getting ridiculous calls from school saying I am not handling things well. I am handling things fine. I am handling things much better than he handles things.
I just can’t get over the fact that somebody decided to call him about this. My dad… I don’t know what he needs right now, but it’s not this. And I sure don’t need this either. We just don’t… oh, I don’t know! Here, why don’t I simplify this and transcribe the conversation we had after he got the call.
DAD: ::knocks, very timorously::
DAD, sounding frightened: Jane?
ME: ::under breath:: Who else would it be? ::gets up, opens door to find Dad cowering back as though I were about to hit him:: Uh… what’s up?
DAD: Oh. Can I come in?
ME: Ummm… [Note: Dad never comes in my room. No one ever comes in my room. I’m not so comfortable with having people in my room.] Uh, sure, I guess.
DAD: Okay. ::sits on bed, having gained some confidence from the fact that no one has blown up or spontaneously caught fire thus far in the conversation::
ME: Uh… is something up, Dad?
DAD: Yes. No. I mean, okay, yes, Jane. I mean, I just got a call from your school.
DAD: Yeah. I got a call from a, um, a Ms. Meyer or something?
ME: Uh... ::realizing:: Oh God. Dad, she’s a moron. Why the... WHY was she calling?
DAD: She said, um, well, this math teacher, she talked to her, you know, she said she’s your counselor? And she said, well, that you haven’t been paying attention in class... [Here insert, with many "ums" and "ahs" and prompts from me, his eventual account of the withdrawn/uncooperative/non-homework-doi
ME: ::floundering:: Are you SERIOUS? I... look, I have no idea what’s going through Mrs. Baker’s head, but I promise you, this doesn’t matter. The whole point of my *being* at Spectrum is that I don’t NEED to do all this stuff.
DAD: What do you mean, you don’t need to? Math is important, Jane. School is important.
ME: Really, Dad, in this case it’s not. She’s a ridiculous teacher, and she’s got a grudge against me, I don’t know why. I’m not going to learn anything from her.
DAD: She’s your math teacher, honey. I mean, Jane, you have to work in your classes, you know? Your education – it’s the most important thing, what your mother and I – [I groaned. He got discombobulated and lost his train of thought.] And, I mean, you’re so smart. So smart... If you... The lady who called, she said your teacher said that... I think... well she said, I mean, the teacher said, but she, the Meyer lady, she told me, you’ve been “abusing the system” –
ME: What is that supposed to mean? It’s THEIR system! [I was yelling by now. This was a bad move. Dad looked like he thought I was going to clock him over the head with a bedside lamp at any minute. Oh boy.]
DAD: I don’t know, I don’t know what it means, I mean, I don’t know what’s been going on, this is just what they said, you know? But I figure, I mean, they never called before, and I worry, you know, because it – you – they...
ME: ::before he could finish declining the personal pronoun:: Dad, please don’t worry. Please. Nothing is wrong. I swear to God.
DAD: But she, the lady who called, says she’s concerned for you...
ME: That’s total bull. The only problem is Mrs. Baker hates me.
DAD: I don’t think – I mean, it didn’t sound like that, Janie. [I hate being called Janie.] I think... I think they’re just concerned, you know? About – I mean, it’s what schools are for, right? For –
ME: Dad, I have this under control. I’m not "abusing" any system. If they let me do things my own way it’s because my own way works.
DAD:: What does that mean? [By this point he was starting to look really pained and sad. I *hate* when that happens.] I hardly know anything about what you’re up to these days… I shouldn’t…
ME: ::quickly:: Dad, it’s okay. Really. I just do my own thing at school, I do my own projects – good ones, really. I wind up learning at my own pace. The librarian – you should talk to her after talking to Mrs. Baker, she knows me a lot better – she says she’s amazed at my drive to learn.
DAD:: You work in the library, right?
ME: Yeah, I have for a long time. I’m good friends with the librarian, she lets me help her pick what books the library should order and stuff.
DAD: See, your mother would have known all this. Your mother –
ME: You did know that.
DAD: No, I thought that, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know anything about it, I don’t talk to you the way she did, I... It’s bad enough you don’t have a mother without me –
ME: Dad, this has nothing to do with anything. Really, it’s okay.
DAD: - without me not paying you any attention. You were never in trouble at school when she was around –
ME: Dad! This isn’t about that! And I’m not in trouble! Mrs. Baker just hates me!
DAD: You spend all your time in your room, on your computer. And I, I just watch TV all the time, I drink too much, I know it, no one has to tell me that –
ME: Oh my God, this SO DOESN’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING!
And he started to cry. Jesus. I mean, obviously he was on the sentimental side of a half-dozen beers, but Jesus Christ. Ms. Meisner makes one phone call to the house and all of a sudden Dad’s sobbing about how he’s a horrible parent and how he hasn’t seemed to be able to hold anything together since Mom died. I had absolutely no idea what to do. I mean, how are you supposed to comfort your own father when he’s – being like that? (Especially when he’s sort of right; he doesn’t understand that I don’t mind that much that he’s sort of in his own shell. I mean, whatever, let him deal with things however he has to deal with them. I’m doing fine.)
I wound up patting him awkwardly on the shoulder a bunch of times, just saying "it’s okay, really, there isn’t a problem, Dad, it’s fine" like a broken record. And he kept insisting it wasn’t. And he kept crying and I kept patting and glancing at the computer and thinking It would all be okay, Dad, really, if you’d just go back to your movie and I could go back to my computer. I can’t do this.
Finally he pulled himself together enough to say he thought Ms. Meisner was right, he should be more involved in my life at school, we should maybe even try family counseling at some point. I was too relieved that he’d stopped crying to notice what he was saying, really. But this is so, so, so very not good. Mrs. Meisner drives me crazy; she’s one of those superficially cheerful bouncy types – her favorite word is "super!" and she never goes anywhere without a colorful scarf with some ridiculous abstract pattern or other on it. And there is a picture on her wall of an eggshell breaking open and blueberries falling out of it, with the caption "Expect the Unexpected." What in GOD’S name is that supposed to mean? It’s bad enough seeing her every week myself; now I’m supposed to drag *Dad* in there? I mean, look at the three of us: I don’t do my homework, Dad watches too much TV, and Ms. Meisner thinks blueberries hatch from eggs. Which one of those people seems to need the most help, here?
My point is, I hate her and she’s useless and stupid and totally unhelpful to me, solo, singular. So how she’s supposed to help my dad and me, plural, is just beyond me. I'm not... I really don't know how to deal with this. I don't think I can deal with him in her office. I can barely deal with him here in my room.
Okay, you know what, forget this bullshit, I have fanfic to work on. I haven't updated Stars May Fall in three days. The last chapter got 57 comments. Let's see if I can beat that this time around.