"The Meeting" by Catherine Bourassa



She is spirited, they say, a kind word for difficult. She is easily frustrated and prone to tantrums. Her preschool teacher once commented to me that “T is so funny, I always hear her growling under her breath.”

It wasn’t funny to me.

I knew this to be something that she would do to help calm herself in public spaces so that she wouldn’t blow a gasket. The teacher had no idea what an impressive tactic this was.

As a child I was nothing like my daughter.

I was a pleaser.

She is a fighter, and she taught me how to be a fighter as well. To fight for her.


**

The table in the conference room at Mason Middle School is made of blonde wood and is at least 12 feet long. It fills the entire room window to doors. I am the first one to arrive at the meeting because I am a punctual person and this is my job. I go to meetings about my child. Lots of meetings.

I am rarely organized but always punctual.

And since I am the first to arrive, I have my pick of where to sit. I want to sit at the head of the table on either end. The power position. I know from experience they will want me seated in the middle. I know because they have moved me there before. “Here you go, Mom. Why don’t you sit here in the center so we can all see you.” Which doesn’t make any sense because they can all see me perfectly fine. In the early years when I first started going to meetings, I was green and naive. When they called me “Mom” I thought it was endearing and friendly. I thought they want to help my child, they want her to thrive, they want her to blossom. It took me until the middle school years to figure out that by using the term “Mom” instead of calling me by my name they were keeping me in my place. I wanted to be liked. I wanted my daughter to be liked. Being liked served no one.

**


The reason for this meeting is to discuss the results of a test that was administered to T to measure her cognitive abilities and intellectual abilities. The name of the test is The Woodcock-Johnson test. This is not a joke. It is also not a joke that the school principal’s name is Dick Seamen.

After the hour long pelting of information that leaves me feeling drained and emotional, the school psychologist asks: “Does “Mom” have any questions or thoughts?” I have only one question for the group. One I don’t verbalize.

“Did Mr. Seamen ever think of going by the name Richard on the days he delivers the results of a test named Woodcock-Johnson”?

Instead, I respond, “No questions.”


A word from the author: I am the mom, and this piece is about some comic relief while trying to navigate an otherwise treacherous educational system