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  • The snow was beautiful that morning. Big, fat snowflakes that made the entire world look like an iced cake. My son Alex, seven at the time, was lingering over pancakes. Pancakes and hot chocolate, since we had a little time before school. He was in the second grade and school was on a two-hour delay.

    I poured a fresh cup of coffee and joined him at the breakfast table. Alex is such a nice guy. He has big brown eyes and every friend that he ever made is still his friend to this day.

    I said something about how good it was to have a delay, but we now had to think about getting ready for school. Alex barely looked up from his plate, saying, "I wish I didn't have to go to school." This wasn't like my son, he had never expressed misgivings about school - not since I took him out of parochial school because he kept on dreaming of the Bleeding Jesus.

    "Why do you say that, Alex?" I asked. He looked at me then and reported that his second grade teacher had said in front of the whole second grade class - "Don't get Alex's disease of not paying attention." I was stunned. "Do I have a disease like AIDS?" my seven year old asked me. This was the early 90's and the fear of communicable disease was at the forefront of the news.

    Alex did not have a disease. He is a very talented artist, as is his father, and a visual learner. Period.

    I controlled myself. I didn't blast that bitch of a teacher who would dare to hurt the feelings of my beautiful, tenderhearted child. Instead I asked him, "How did that make you feel?" His little face looked so serious even though he was missing a front tooth. "At first I was sad," he said, "but then I got mad."

    Good self-esteem check. "There is nothing wrong with you at all. You are the most wonderful boy that ever was," I told him. "If Mrs. Kline can't see that, she needs to get her eyes checked!" He and I both laughed and I got him ready for school.

    After he left, I got on the phone with the guidance counselor. I explained the situation. The guidance counselor told me I would be remiss if I did not report this to the principal. He was my next call.

    When my son got home from school, I let him settle in before asking how his day was. "Mrs. Kline called me out in the hall and told me she was sorry that she said I had a disease," Alex said, munching on a cookie and looking out the window at the snowy yard, his canvas just waiting for him. He had already informed me that he had it in his mind to build a snow T-Rex. "But I think it would have been better for Mrs. Kline to say sorry in front of the whole class." I ruffled his hair, then hugged him tight. "Me too, buddy. Me too."

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