May 19 2008


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Brigid sat, staring resolutely at her knees as her mother came in. The teacher, Miss Lebsdale (or “Miss Lobster” as the student were generally more inclined to think of her), looked up from her paperwork at Isadora’s entrance. “Mrs. Franks,” she said. “Do come in.”

Isadora gave Brigid a less-than-pleased look, put down her coat and purse and, with a pause that clearly indicated that she noticed the guest chair was not in front of the teacher’s desk, pulled it over and sat down. “Thank you,” she finally said. “I gather Brigid is having some problem?”

Your daughter,” said Miss Lebsdale, in a tone that was normally reserved for terms such as ‘raw sewage’ or ‘fleas and ticks,’ “has a foul mouth, and can’t seem to keep it shut in class.”

“Indeed,” said Isadora.

“Not content to give the world her opinion on the brain capacity of Curious George, to say that Dr. Seuss is ‘really screwed up,’ and to refer to Singing Time as ‘Stinking Time,’ today she said something absolutely vile about the snacks which I won’t repeat.”

Isadora’s eyebrows gently floated up an eighth of an inch. “That bad, was it?”

“Yes,” said Miss Lebsdale.

Isadora turned to Brigid, whose laser-like stare would be burning a hole in her knees if it were possible. “Did you say something absolutely vile about the snacks, Brigid?”

“No,” said Brigid. “Or at least, nothing that wasn’t as vile as the snacks were.”

“There!” said Miss Lebsdale. “You see what I mean?”

“What did you say?” asked Isadora. Brigid turned her eyes up to Miss Lebsdale, then over to Isadora, but didn’t speak. “Brigid Elaine,” said Isadora crisply. “What did you say?”

“I said the snacks were unicorn poop,” said Brigid quietly.

“There!” said Miss Lebsdale again.

Isadora continued to regard Brigid for a moment, then turned her gaze back to the teacher. “Unicorn poop,” she repeated.

“You see?” said Miss Lebsdale. “You see why we can’t have this kind of thing in the classroom? Your daughter is a discipline problem, Mrs. Franks!”

“May I see some of these snacks?” said Isadora.

Miss Lebsdale blinked. “What?”

“Just humor me, if you would. I’d like to see what prompted this outrage.”

“All right, I think I’ve got some left, just a moment — ah yes! Here you go.” Miss Lebsdale handed Isadora a packet of small, squishy, brightly-colored gelatin candies in a variety of fruit shapes. Isadora opened the package, took out a green specimen, squidged it in her fingers, then popped it into her mouth, chewed it thoughtfully, and swallowed.

“Miss Lebsdale,” said Isadora, “my daughter is quite clearly in the right here.”


Isadora stood up. “If you’re going to insist on feeding my child what is clearly unicorn poop, then you should be prepared for her to comment on it. Brigid is a clear-minded, intelligent child, in whom I’ve been endeavoring for the past eight years to instill a passionate love for the truth. ‘A discipline problem?’ Would you call Gandhi ‘a discipline problem?’ Would you call the Kent State victims ‘a discipline problem’? My child is a conscientious objector!”

Miss Lebsdale didn’t say anything, as she was too busy opening and closing her mouth in confusion.

“As for Curious George, Dr. Seuss, and Singing Time, I’m not prepared to comment, but I have no doubt that my daughter’s criticisms are well-founded on those matters as well.” She turned and collected her coat and purse. “Brigid! We’re going.”

Brigid didn’t say anything, but hopped out of her chair and quickly headed for the door.

“By the way,” said Isadora, “are there any books you’ve read in this class that you did like?”

“Well, I kinda liked Madeline,” said Brigid.

Isadora smiled and opened the door for her daughter. “Good girl!” she said.

-The Gneech

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