ET Phone Home
Last week I felt like the mother in the commercial, where her
son shows her a good report card, and she starts to cry. My son
is growing up. He pulled up his grades. I wish he could do the
same for his pants, but one thing at a time.
We visited a college campus this past weekend. He was happy to
find out the school was seventy percent female and he liked the
food. I was happy thinking I'll have less laundry and that he
was finally happy about going to school, any school.
School was never easy for him. Not that the curriculum was a
problem, the staying out of trouble was the hard part. He was
always too bright for his own good. He got bored easily and
boredom for little boys leads to lots of big boy trouble.
I think every Principal he ever had kept my phone number on
speed dial. I heard far too many times, on the other end of the
line, "Is this Devaun's mother?"
"Um, no. She went out to lunch. Can I tell her you called?"
Okay, I didn't really say that but I wanted to. It's hard being
a mother to a child whose I.Q. surpassed your own at age five
and yet I'm supposed to know what to do with him.
I knew we had a problem on his first day of Kindergarten. The
teacher gave us a tour of the class and I could see his bright
little face starting to frown. Those handsome dark eyebrows,
that I loved, were knitting together and I knew he wasn't happy
about what he saw.
"We are going to learn to read in this class," said Miss Way Too
Great. Does she realize I walked into my son's room last night,
hoping to read him Happy Birthday Moon and found him reading my
John Steinbeck novel, Of Mice and Men?
He rarely wanted stories anyway. He preferred running through
his set of math flash cards before bed. Whew! I was lucky they
had the answers printed on the back of the cards.
"Then we will learn how to tell time," says the teacher as she
pulled out a pretend clock, made from a paper plate, with black
I could see his disappointment growing. He had been telling time
for over a year now. His older sister still relied on her
digital watch for time telling and his mother, the microwave.
I remember him asking me once "Mommy, how many miles to get to
San Jose?" "Ninety miles," I replied.
"Oh, so we should be there approximately one and a half hours
from now. That is if we continue to go sixty miles per hour."
Who is this kid really and what planet did his pod drop in from?
I left my beautiful little boy with Miss Way Too Happy Teacher
and a scared look on his face. That day was the start of many
"He did what?" type of conversations on the phone.
Once I took him out of school, for a mother and son road trip.
He was ten. I was....none of your business.
We drove to Oklahoma, all the way from California. Now that I
think back, perhaps it wasn't a very good idea, to be a white
woman driving with a black child through the South, but it all
As we were leaving California I remember pointing at a mountain
and saying "Look! There's Mt. McKinley."
He didn't even look up from his book and said "I highly doubt
that, Mom. Mt. McKinley is in Alaska."
I said "Really. Then what is it doing over there?"
"That's Mt. Whitney," and he kept on reading his book.
Hey, how am I supposed to keep the names of mountains and dead
Recently, I was standing at the front door of my house. The kids
were arguing and my arms were full. I was jiggling the door knob
with one hand and holding my keys in the other. I kept pressing
my cars automatic lock and unlock feature on my key chain, while
getting frustrated that the front door wouldn't open.
I honestly stood there shaking the door knob, to my house, and
said "What is wrong with this thing? I just bought the damn car."
He quietly reached over, took the keys from my hand and opened
the front door...with the house key. Then he looked up to the
sky, as if praying, or was he searching for the UFO that had
accidentally left him, to come back and take him home, to his
Over the past twelve years I grew to know all of the schools
educators and administrators, much more than I would have liked.
I have paced the floors, yelled, cried and replaced property
I have spent countless hours circling neighborhoods and calling
friends houses, to look for him, and then cried and gave thanks
when I found him.
I didn't know what to do with him, but I am not looking forward
to learning how to do life without him. Maybe I'll be lucky and
this six foot three extraterrestrial will remember to "phone
Hey, maybe I'm the one who is really an alien. After all, my
initials are E.T.