The Devil Known

Today, the term ends at the nation’s oldest public school. As they rush to make things happen before grades close, Vince’s teachers have made this a challenging time for the Parent Imperfect and family. The PI thought that the idea of “clusters” was designed to insure that communication among teachers would avoid the moments when all teachers were demanding big projects or having major tests at the same time. If that is the intent of the cluster system, it has failed…miserably.

Crunch time has come at a time when Vince has had soccer commitments on five consecutive days. For some unknown reason, the parents of this seventh grader have allowed him to play all of that soccer, despite his workload. The folly of those ways became obvious on Tuesday night, when Vince trudged into the house at 8:15PM after a disappointing game. He had at least three more hours of work to do before he could think about sleep. This, of course, meant that his parents–especially his mother–faced the same schedule.

Ms. Connie easily gets lost in the frenzy of attention to Vince’s assignments. She would love to help her brother with his work, but Vince has long since lost interest in being reminded of little sister’s special gifts, especially when it comes to her showing that she can help him do his work. For at least the third time in the last week, the parents went to bed saying, “Never again…” until the next time.

In the midst of it all, Vince had to do his fifth declamation of the year before his Writing class. He chose the famous speech from the movie, Gettysburg, in which a Union officer is addressing a group of mutineers, who he could be executing, about why they are all fighting. Vince somehow learned the speech quite well despite all of the other projects and tests and texting and socializing and Facebook and fights with parents and OWL and soccer. Hearing the last run through couldn’t help but move the PI, almost to tears. The next day, Vince marched off to do Gettysburg in the Fenway in his shorts and basketball shirt, forgetting the white shirt and tie that Liz had laid out for him. That got him -5 points to start with, but his speech got him the rest, silencing even the in-house critics for a moment.

And then there came the Catastrophic Rupture. That’s the Weston water rupture, not the Gulf Coast oil rupture to the tune of “Drill Baby, Drill.” The “boil water order” is thankfully a thing of the past. The PI and Liz do their best to boycott bottled water, but that was tough with pond water coming out of the tap. The PI spent a memorable Sunday afternoon in the supermarket, where throngs of cart pushers were literally jostling each other to get access to pallets stacked high with cases of water in plastic bottles. He saw one case where a particularly aggressive shopper helped another observe the two case limit by taking a case out of  the offender’s cart. The resulting melee led one older man to remark, “I never thought I’d see the day when we were fighting over water.” He then went down the aisle, muttering about “Obama” and how he wished we had put in McCain.

In the coming days, the family will receive news of Connie’s school assignment for next year. In the last couple of weeks, the child has begun to speak of wanting to stay where she is. The PI assumes that they have been working on her at the Hernández, but Connie insists that this is only her own thinking. She knows that her work at the RHS won’t be very challenging for her, but she likes the idea of having the time to do gymnastics and theater and piano (no team sports for this girl) without feeling a lot of pressure. She also likes the idea of the devil known, rather than the one unknown. Is the PI arguing that he doesn’t want Connie to do theater, etc. or is he saying that he wants her to do those things, while getting used to the sort of pressure that her brother feels (or ought to feel) around his school?

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