Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Christmas Call

Mr. Fisk had a very good class in general. They cooperated and he had a good rapport with them. In fact, they often took him off on tangents that were as interesting, if not more so, than whatever he'd prepared. He figured if he ever got observed at one of those moments he'd be highly effective for sure, but alas his boss was always observing his other classes. They were okay too, but they didn't quite do what this class did. It was the day before Christmas break and he was going to surprise them by giving no homework whatsoever.

So you can imagine his surprise when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, one of his best students started behaving like a 14-year-old. In fairness, the boy may have actually been 14 years old, but he had not really achieved the stereotype until this very day. What precipitates a cry for attention like this? Mr. Fisk tried talking directly to the boy, in a friendly tone, but the boy was simply not having a friendly day.

On this particular day, Mr. Fisk could achieve very little. Though interruptions came largely from this one boy, when they were directed at other students they responded somewhat less diplomatically than the teacher. This caused multiple conflicts, because some of the students who weren't being directly insulted were amused by the show. Now things were coming to a head.

Mr. Fisk didn't want to call a dean or anyone because he never called a dean or anyone. He thought doing that made him appear weak. Still, why were they all gathered in one place if all they were going to do was insult each other? It was getting as though they were all on Twitter and Donald Trump was one of the students.

Mr. Fisk suggested that the student in question might be more comfortable sitting in the department office and cooling off for the day. But the student was not happy with that suggestion.

"Why should I have to leave?" he asked.

Mr. Fisk suggested it was a good idea. He didn't want to call the boy's house the day before vacation.

"Go ahead," said the boy. "My father won't answer the phone."

To underline that he meant business, the boy took out the phone, set it to dial his house, and handed it to Mr. Fisk.

Mr. Fisk was a little nervous. He wasn't in the practice of calling homes in front of the students whose homes he happened to be calling. But he was up for a challenge. He figured if the boy directly asked him to call, he couldn't effectively complain about how bad he felt when it actually happened.

Mr. Fisk began talking to Dad. The boy's face changed completely. He listened as Mr. Fisk spoke. No, he couldn't send him home right now. No, he was just hoping that Dad could give him some good advice. Well, Dad knew best what to do. Yes of course he could come in for a meeting whenever he liked.

It turned out the boy was from a multi-religious home. Dad was Catholic and Mom was Jewish. They made a big deal out of celebrating both Hanukah and Christmas and Dad had decreed that not only would there be neither for his son this year, but that also the boy was grounded for the entire break.

Mr. Fisk hadn't actually wished anything bad for the boy. But he didn't feel particularly guilty about it either.
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