Skipping School: The Bad Kid This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 21, 2010
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Let’s get this straight: I am a “good kid.” Under no circumstances would I willingly skip a class. I don’t even like it when I have an excused absence. I’m the kind of kid who could be lying back in dentists chair, goofy sunglasses on for protection, my mouth open as wide as humanly possible, and a sharp tool uncomfortably scraping at the edge of my gums, and I would be wondering if the band was playing Pirates of the Caribbean yet. My thoughts would be interrupted by a “Can you open your mouth a little wider, Tia?”
My tentative reply, “Mmmpff.”
There was one time, though, that I skipped a class -last period, band. But I didn’t spend the time worrying about what I was missing, or even discreetly leaning against the back of the schoolhouse, smoking a cigarette, in a leather jacket. Nope, I spent the time sitting right in front of the schoolhouse, in plain view, getting steaming mad, and a little hurt, at my mom for not picking me up. And doing my homework. Yep, I was pretty rebellious. The teachers sure had to keep an eye on me.
Of course, I didn’t start out angry at my mom. I don’t just irrationally get angry at two minutes of lateness. No, it built up slowly, as time went on.
5 minutes pass. This was nothing unusual- my family was usually late.
15 minutes. At the back of my mind I wondered if something had happened to my mom that prevented her from picking me up. Maybe she was running away from our burning house and ran into an angry bear who kidnapped her. Or maybe she had run into an angry bear and it kidnapped her and informed her that our house was on fire? Or maybe she kidnapped an angry bear who then set fire to our house? I decided not to waste time, and to do my homework. I pulled out my history book and started reading.
25 minutes. 1887, Rutherford B. Hayes asks, “Shall the will of monopolies take the place of government by the people, and shall Tia be picked up soon?” I wasn’t impatient, just curious. Rarely were my parents this late. Well, that’s not quite true. We normally are at least 30 minutes late to parties. And we are always really late to fundraiser meals. We normally show up about five minutes before they stop serving, and sometimes too late even for that. Rather, rarely were they this late picking me up.
35 minutes. 1890, Congress passes the Sherman Antitrust Act that says that trusts and monopolies that restrained free competition were illegal, and so was neglecting to pick up your offspring at the time that was designated. Now I was impatient. This tardiness was inexcusable.
45 minutes. Emma Lazarus writes, “Send these the homeless, tempest tost to me.”
I set down my book with disgust, and off I went, like a tempest, to the bookstore to confront my wayward parents-teeth gnashing, and fists clenched all the way. Scenarios flew through my mind, in which I, a mighty pillar of justice, came down upon my cowering parents who begged for forgiveness and swore never to abuse their rights as car drivers and picker-up-ers ever again.
I ripped through the door, splinters flying in all directions, and in the midst of ruin and destruction my voice boomed out, like the final judgment, “You’re late!”
Blank faces stared back at me. I repeated my demand, this time more forceful than the first. “You’re LATE!”
After a confused stretch of silence, my mom hesitantly asks, “Tia what are you doing here?”
“I might ask you the same thing, Mom. I came here because I wasn’t picked up.” Accusation dripped from my voice, drowning the little pool of hurt wallowing behind my eyes. Why had my mom forgotten me?
“Tia, it’s 3:00!”
Huh? That couldn’t be true. I looked at the clock. A ninety-degree angle stretched from the 12 to the 3. NO! I refused to believe it. School had been out. I had been waiting! School had to be out! But I felt my insides sink with dread. I couldn’t deny hard facts. It was 3:00. I. Had skipped. School.

Remember that little pool of hurt behind my eyes hidden only by the accusation and anger? Well, with those gone, no longer hiding it, it spilled over, in the form of mortification and regret.

What had I done? What would happen to me now? Would school officials come and drag me back to school, and throw me into a dungeon, like the nightmares I used to have, while they had a parent teacher conference with my parents, and threatened that if I talked I would be turned into a little green monster with purple poka-dots and big lips and be thrown into a cage in the corner of the room, and the only ways I could escape were to somehow get my name on the release roster early, or to climb up the yellow spiral slide. And more importantly, did I still qualify as a good kid?

We called the office to explain my folly, and to add our sincere apologies. Turns out, they had seen me sitting there the whole time, but trusted me enough to know what I was doing. This brings up an intriguing question: Just how much can I get away with? I think I’ll by myself a leather jacket.

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