I always thought he’d find his way into some sort of trouble, I just wasn’t sure what kind of trouble it would turn out to be. The school office secretary wouldn’t discuss it over the phone, her stern voice telling me I’d have to come in and talk to the principal, as soon as possible. When she called I’d been sitting in my office staring out at a curtain of grey and slanting sleet wishing I was anywhere else. Now I’m sitting on a slightly undersized wooden chair in the hallway of my old school, wishing I was back at work. Straight backed, elbows resting on the briefcase resting on my knees, I feel like my father, can imagine him sitting in the exact same chair after getting the exact same call. I was never an easy child. I see me when I look at my boy and it makes me cringe. Which makes me feel guilty. Which makes me try harder to do better for him. Which isn’t such a bad thing I guess.
My head spins as the principal taps a hollow knock on his doorframe, ready for me now. I can feel the secretary’s eyes follow me as I cross the hall, relief as I duck through the door being held by a mushroom shaped man measuring out my pace as he swings it shut behind me. I sit awkwardly on the chair offered, trying to adjust myself before realising it was only the chair, a normal chair for normal people of normal size. Oddly discomforted by the chair’s perfect fit, I slip forward to sit on the edge as I wait for it. To hear the terrible thing he’s done. I wonder if it will be something familiar, something I had done as a boy, or maybe something I’ll be strangely proud of, that he thought of a prank I never did or could. The principal slides his glasses down and off his nose, placing them on his desk without a noise as he sits with a look on his face. A look I can’t read, and still can’t understand as he gives a kind smile.
The sound of his voice, almost joyful, makes what he said seem to be more about his own child than mine. ‘Mr Morgan, your son is top of his class and shows exemplary maturity and behaviour. It has been brought to my attention by many of his teachers that they’ve found themselves at a loss as to how to further his education in this school. He has shown particular talent in a few subjects and it is my suggestion, my adamant suggestion, that he be placed in another school more suited to develop those talents. You should be very proud, Mr Morgan.’ I can see now that he looks confused when I don’t speak, that he can see the cogs ticking over in my brain as I replay his words. The truth is I wasn’t prepared for this kind of news. I was prepared to profusely apologise and to promise stern action. I should be very proud, of who? The boy, or me?