When I pick up Noah at the end of the school day he has a ‘cat ate the bird’ look. The same look that Sylvester the Cat has in the rare instances when he’s swallowed Tweety Bird. Generally, it is just a moment before something terrible happens to him.
Hard to know if Noah has good news or bad news. He has been getting in trouble in school lately, so it’s always a toss up.
Noah is holding something back. We begin the walk home. He’s hopping with trepidation. Half a block later, he stops suddenly.
“Dad, dad, I absolutely have to show you something.”
He drops his bag in the middle of the sidewalk. The rush hour tide splits around us.
“Noah, I prefer getting home first so we can look at stuff properly.”
“Dad, dad, I gotta show you.”
All I see for the moment are papers and notebooks and pencil cases about to explode on the sidewalk. I look for a refuge and spot a park bench that has not yet been removed in the city’s undeclared war against loiterers, like me.
I grab Noah by the collar and drag him and his bag to the bench.
He’s hardly noticed, so engrossed is he in his mission. His toque is askew, his sweater and his coat are open and flapping in the wind. Sometimes he looks so small, like a fevered mite struggling for space.
I sit on the bench beside his bag, Now I’m at his height. He hands me a sheet of paper.
It’s his Daily Progress Report instituted by his teacher (see post: No Passaran!). It chronicles his efforts on a number of dimensions like listening, working, respecting…M is for doing the right thing Most or all of the time, P for Part of the time.
He’s been getting lots of P’s and a rare M. And the occasional detention.
I unfold the paper, fully expecting Tweety Bird to flutter in my face.
I see M’s everywhere. Every dimension, and there are eight on the report.
I look up at Noah. He’s wide-eyed, expectant. His mouth, filled with a charmingly crooked mix of baby and adult teeth, is stretched in the widest of smiles.
“All M’s !?!”
“Yeeeeeeessssssssss.” So loud that for a fraction of a moment the whole city seems to go quiet to pay attention.
“And look at what he wrote, here, look, here, dad.”
His rainbow stained fingers, colored by the day’s arts class, poke at the paper.
A handwritten note.
What a pleasure to learn with Noah, today.
I look at Noah. He’s nodding, bobble-headed with an adrenaline rush.
Today was a Perfect day! signed Mr. Aaron.
“A perfect day, Dad!” Excited disbelief.
“And how does it feel?”
“Grrrreeeaaaaaaaattttttttttttt !!!!” My lion cub roars.
I hug him. Just the right height.
“How did you do it?”
“I did like you told me. On the bus, like, this is what I did. I told myself over and over. M’s I want M’s, only M’s I hate P’s, No excuses , No limits, Only M’s. I went like that all the way to homeroom. Man, dude… sorry, dad, I was sooooo concentrated. My brain was like phoooosssshhhh! a laser. Cool huh dad?”
He’s dancing on the spot. I feel like Ginger Rogers to his Gene Kelly.
A perfect day. A challenge to all the days to come.