Saturday, April 12, 2008

My facsimile

Not to toot my own horn, but I have some pretty great kids. Sure, they test, they push, and I've dealt with my share of deception and half-truths. But, for the most part, they're a very honest, respectful bunch.

And, it's no accident that I put so much value on their behavior. I grew up in what on
good days, was a free-for-all. Thankfully, I had some great outside influences, and I think I turned out all right in the end. But sometimes, when I stop and think about some of the crap that I pulled, particularly in my teen years, it makes my toes curl. And not in that good way, either.

So, I was a little taken a back with what Emma pulled this last Thursday when she presented me with a yellow ticket from school and a pen.

See, every day in Kindergarden Emma earns a ticket. Most days, it's a green one. She collects X-amount of green tickets (the number has been increasing all year, smart teacher!) and this earns her a trip to the prize box.

Yellow tickets are pretty rare, and indicate that she'd be warned about something and didn't listen. On the occasion she gets one of these I usually get a short, evasive answer on why we got such a sunny-looking ticket that day. "Mrs. H told me to stop talking to Janey while I was handing out the scissors, but I forgot because we were wearing the same shirt.
And Janey was talking too." And so it goes.

Only once, have we come home with the dreaded RED ticket. She immediately burst into tears upon exiting the bus and stood in the driveway sobbing, red ticket clutched in hand. I needed no explanation from her as to why she got the red ticket, because it was all spelled out on the back, with a Signature Requested stamp for the ticket to be returned. (Smart teacher!) Curt and I talked to Emma about what she'd done wrong that day at length and she had a time out in her room.

Since then, it's been pretty smooth sailing. Until Thursday afternoon that is, when she presented me with the ticket and the pen. I was a little confused as to why she had the pen, and then I noticed the way she was holding the ticket. She had laid it face up on her palm, the hand holding the pen anchoring it in place.

"Mom, I need to you sign this." Her hands twitched to keep the paper flat on her hand.

"Why am I signing this Emma?" I'm watching her with a mixture of amazement and dread. Her arms are stiff, her eyes shifting to the left as she answers me, and she'd turned her body so that she wasn't quite facing me anymore. Everything about her was screaming that a doozy of an untruth was coming at me.

"Because, um, you have to sign these ones that aren't green, right?"

I pick up the ticket with my free hand, and she stiffens further. I turn it over and it takes me a second to comprehend what I'm seeing. Dear, sweet Emma has tried to forge my signature. My initials to be specific, I sign most of the kids papers that way, and what I'm looking at looks an awful lot like a cursive 'C S'.

"Emma, what is this on the back?"

"Nothing! I was just trying to write a name!"

"Whose name, Emma? Were you trying to sign Mommy's name so you that didn't have to show me the yellow ticket?" I'm really rather pissed by this point.

"NO! I was just writing some letters!"

"Emma Caroline! Don't you lie to Mommy!"
And so the conversation went. She confessed, and I explained in vivid detail what forgery was and what a serious offense it was. Consequences for trying to pull a Milli Vanilli on Mrs. H were listed at great length.

I sent her to her room to collect myself and stared in disbelief at the yellow ticket. This was on par with
the great mail heist, and she's only five years old. She's five years old, and tried to forge my name. The room starts to spin a little bit as I contemplate what the coming years with her might bring. I'll need an alarm system for the house, the home numbers of all of her teachers, and a cell phone with GPS in it by the time she's a teenager, just to maybe stay ahead of her.

And then, somewhere in the back of my brain, a memory comes back. Of me. At 15, I'm sitting at the kitchen table after the first day of my Sophomore year of high school. Sorting through the first day information and emergency contact cards, inspiration strikes. I turn to my mother and offer to fill out the cards for her, correctly speculating that any woman with four kids worth of paperwork would be glad to have one less to worry about. When it came to the lines for Parent's Signature, I casually signed my best imitation of her name. She never asked.

It wasn't a perfect forgery. But it didn't need to be. Because, all year long, every one of my excuse notes for skipping class matched those signature cards perfectly.


Mathew Copeland said...


I once asked my elementary school principal to sign his signature so I could how him how good my forgery was. I signed his name on the page a few times around where he had signed then brought it back to him. He couldn't tell which was his anymore but it took me a few years to figure out why he didn't tell me what a great job I had done.

Caroline said...

Crap. Must run in the farking genes. When she hits 15, I'm sending her to live with uncle Mathew.