Why were we nervous? It's not as if this had come out of the blue. We'd had the appointment for months. A calendar date circled in red with a regimented time we'd have to keep to the second if we wanted to be considered good at our jobs.
"PTC ...7:20 to 7:40."
Parent/Teacher Conference. A perfunctory thing every zoo-keeping adult looks forward to the way they anticipate creating wills ... or marital therapy ... only this task you can't exactly put off.
I checked the clock. 5:04. We had plenty of time. The kids had already eaten and done their homework. They were now fully immersed in their electronic surroundings.
We would stop for dinner first. Have drinks.
I was dressed casually, yet I had been careful to choose shoes that clicked when I walked. Which, at this particular moment, as I waited for my husband to get showered and changed, sounded like I was pacing with exclamation points.
What would they say?
I'd seen his grades already. I knew he was perfectly average, though his handwriting suggests he'd make an excellent doctor.
It's what we don't know that worries us.
Does he make good use of time?
Is he kind? Polite?
Are people kind to him?
What will they say that could burst this bubble around us?
You can't stop yourself from wondering.
Our boy isn't exactly like all the others. Not that I would complain.
He still wears pajama-like pants and enormous shoes. His odd sense of humor and dry wit stand out. He can talk to strangers. And does. All the time.
"Do you know that Google was named after a googillion? Larger than a googol, which is 10 with a hundred zeros, a Googillion is the largest unknown number in the universe."
Of course, I didn't believe him.
Numbers are finite. How could one be "The Largest?"
And of course, a fact check via Google search usually deems his non-sequiturs 'Mostly True.'
His teachers will find this out about him, too. His knowledge potential is vast but often arbitrarily applied.
Most of them have told me it's refreshing to have a child who is willing to be wrong, even if he does sound convincing enough to sway the rest of the class.
They also don't always see what we see. A boy who can be emotional in the moment but resilient in the aftermath. A kid who does life his own way, on his own terms, smiling as much as he can.
Then again, his parents aren't like most parents; I said to myself as I perched atop a tiny (but tall) chair at the end of the bar.
I had ordered the spaetzle and a local pilsner. My husband had ordered a bratwurst and cider.
When the waitress asked what's the occasion, we shrugged our shoulders and admitted we had time to kill before a meeting with teachers.
She wished she'd thought of that when her kids were coming up.
“That would have made me more relaxed,” she said with a grin.
If you have to sit in a tiny chair, you might as well get comfortable first.