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Writer's Spawn

Published in The Kiss of Death, September/October 2003

I was a Girl Scout Leader for six years, a room mother for three, and a volunteer school teacher for one.  When I was through with that, I home schooled my three kids.  We traveled, they learned, they weren't bored.  But when my almost teenage son, "Bob"** informed us 'Days of Our Lives' was on twice a day, my husband and I looked at each other and thought maybe it was time to try a new kind of school in the new town we lived in.

And they were great, these new schools.  The kids were doing well, I was hanging with other parents at school functions and almost being accepted into the folds.  Yes, the Ray Bans, jeans, leather jacket, black boots, and ever present Starbucks cup might set me apart, but hey, the kids friends liked it.  They called me "cool" and when kids think you are "cool," there's not a much better compliment you kind find.

I was at one of those parent meetings once.  The ones when all the parents meet with the teacher to discuss plans for the coming year.   This was my second out of three kids, now in the 7th grade and I had a few of these meetings under my belt.   I stayed as long as I could, until my time was up, and I had a Tae Kwon Do class to make.  No.  None of the others parents were taking Tae Kwon Do, but I didn't try to explain how I wrote action/adventure fiction and learning this stuff helped me with my character development.

I gave my vote on the subject and snuck out the backdoor quietly, hoping to not disturb the flow.  Half way down the stairs and to the exit, I heard my name called.  The mere tone gave my spine a chill, and I knew this wasn't going to be good.  

I was right.

The teacher needed to talk to me.  Now.  Privately.  He had something he wanted to show me and called the school counselor out of the parents meeting, turning our "privately" into a threesome.

Sitting in a small room away from everyone else, my Tae Kwon Do class now half over, the principle joined us, and they are lined up in a row, me facing them like the Spanish Inquisition straight out of the historical research I had recently read.  I idly wonder who is running the parents meeting and soon realize that is the least of my worries.

A folder was produced.  It slid across the table toward me.  "Ms. Wilson," one of them asked, "Do you know what this is?"

Swallowing hard, I picked it up, instantly recognizing "Bob's" handwriting.  I started at the back, flipping each page forward, the knot in my stomach giving way to a smirk that did not please the principle. 

Page after page appeared before me.  Diagrams taken directly off my library shelves.  My son has gotten into my research books, most notable The Anarchist Cookbook and meticulously copied are the drawings from within.  My enthusiasm on the detail of the artwork is lost on the crowd in front of me.  My pointing out that "Bob" even remembered to give the copyright to the original author, is met with blank stares.

"How would your son get a hold of this book?" I'm asked.

A fumble for a logical answer and decide to go for the truth.   "You see," I say with as much confidence as three glares will allow.  "It's my book.  I write fiction."

A lie might have at least produced another look on those faces.

"No, really," I say.  "A couple years ago I had to blow up a car in South America and I got this for purely research reasons."

"You blew up a car in South America?"

"Well, not me," I point out, trying to laugh.  "My character did.  I write fiction.  Action f-i-c-t-i-o-n."

When the pencil began to tap, eraser first, onto the table top, I knew I was not getting through.

"Does your son have access to ammonium hydroxide?" I'm asked.

"No," I tell, refraining to point out that plain ammonia is a perfect substitute.

"Guns?  A shotgun.  Does he have the ingredients to build this silencer?"

The fact I know the silencer in the books is not nearly as good as a simple potato over the barrel comes to mind.  It's quicker to get and cheaper to use and will produce the same effect.  I bite my tongue and speak over the pain. 

"Nothing beyond what 007 give him on his Play Station."

They are not amused and I spend the next hour trying to convince them that my son is not a threat to humanity.  He's just a kid whose seen too many James Bond films.  My parenting skills comes into question.  Does my husband know what I do? 

As I assure them that yes, my husband does know how I spend my days, I'm thinking of ways to make my son pay.  Slowly.  So he never forgets this night. 

I needn't bothered.  The school beats any torture I can think of, hands down.  He spends the next three months in twice-a-week counseling sessions with the principle and the school shrink.

The Anarchist Cookbook is now in my safe, under lock and key. 

None of us blame the school for their fear.  These days it was right of them to be concerned for their student's safety.  I was most impressed, though, with my son challenging them on the fact the teacher had "accidentally" found the notebook buried in the back of his desk under four books and a mass of paper when he was searching my son's desk without permission.  Ever hear of a warrant? "Bob" wanted to know.  Who says Law & Order episodes aren't educational?

I still wear the Ray Bans, the leather, and the jeans.  And I still look at autopsy photos, read true life crime stories and blow up cars in fiction.  What I don't do, and what my kids have learned not to do, is discuss mom's work at school.  We save the details of how to stage a murder, how to break a group of 19th century outlaws out of jail and how to build the bombs for the dinner table.

After all, it's important to include the kids in the daily life, to let them know what it is we do while they are at school.  Isn't that what being part of a family is all about?     

** Not my son’s real name.  He threatened to write an article on me if I didn't change it!!




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