When Laddie was starting his freshman year of high school, he attended football camp at the high school all summer. Coach and I weren't thrilled with his choice to play football in high school, but we figured it made no sense to deny a kid his size. We hated that camp monopolized most weeks of his summer. We preferred that the boys work in the summer to save money for college. No matter what size any of our kids were, we knew that the NFL wouldn't be scouting, drafting, or funding them. College tuition needed to be earned and saved.
I was anxious for Lad to have a fresh start in high school. He graduated from a small Catholic grade school. We pondered yanking him from that school from time to time. Unfortunately the majority of the boys in his grade were either mean, intimidating, rude, sneaky, pompous, aggressive, or all of the above. I knew decent kids were enrolled in the school, because Eddie's class was full of kind, friendly, polite, well-mannered kids. Lad just got the short end of the stick.
There were triplet boys in Lad's class, who ran the show. With only about 22 boys in the entire grade, if you weren't accepted by them, then you were a social leper. These triplets disliked Lad. I worried about sending Lad to high school with these same characters. Other seasoned parents assured me that high school was big enough to click with a group and avoid the one jerk who tormented you in grammar school. Of course none of them had sent a kid off to high school to deal with a set of triplet jerks.
One summer day a woman called the house and introduced herself as Carol. She explained that her son was also playing football at the high school. For a split second I was foolish enough to think that this woman was organizing a barbecue of incoming freshmen parents or some other social function. Silly me.
Her son brought his new iPhone to practice in his backpack. That day after practice his phone wasn't in his bag. She was kind enough not to accuse Laddie of stealing the missing phone. She wondered if the phone could've been placed in the wrong backpack, and if perhaps Laddie could check his bag to see if it ended up there by mistake.
|Football gear - just be glad you can't smell it.|
Carol explained that she reached out to Mary Ann already. Mary Ann suggested that Carol, who she didn't know from Adam, call me. Laddie Shenanigan was a freshman on the football team. He probably knew something about this missing phone.
I believe I failed to drop Mary Ann a thank you note for making that connection for this woman. Our neighbor had known us for years. Did it not occur to her to contact me with Carol's information after their initial conversation? Instead I felt like she had tainted this woman's opinion of our kid when she didn't hesitate to throw him under the 'he-probably-stole-your-kid's-cell-phone' bus.
Laddie didn't have the phone. He knew nothing about it. Coach and I watched as he emptied his bag looking for it. School hadn't even started yet. I was concerned that despite Lad's lack of involvement with his teammate's lost phone, he would be considered a sneaky thief. So much for a clean slate.