Arrested Development

A “Truant’s” Story
“Those are things that I could never have learned at ‘real’ school.”
Arrested DevelopmentChapter:The Home School Story
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O nce there was a boy.  He was walking on Court Street, a big street in his neighborhood.  He was wearing new purple Nike’s, a checkered flannel, and a faux fur hat.  Essentially, he was Holden Caulfield.

He was singing to himself, this Holden Caulfield look-a-like, making up an epic jazz solo to “Epistrophy”, by Thelonious Monk.  The boy, clueless as could be, stopped at the corner, mimed a drum solo, and then:

“Hey, kid.”

The boy looked up, still in a groove:  “G7, G7, D major, bud dum da dum, D minor, dodoo dodoo!”

“Where ya going?”  The voice belonged to a man in a big van with NYPD on it.  The boy was pissed.  His epic solo had been interrupted just as he was getting to A minor.

“Home,” he responded innocently.
“Why?”
“I’m home schooled.”
“Get in the van.”

“Oh-h, shit,” he muttered, a little too loudly.  The boy reached out for the door handle, only to realize that there was none on his side, and painfully smashed his hand into the van.

“Those are things that I could never have learned at ‘real’ school.”


He entered the van on the street side, something his mother told him never to do.  He got in the van, found the only working seat belt, and plopped down on the soft and grossly moist cushion.

This boy was me.  It was Friday, November 12, at 10:27, corner of Court and Atlantic.  I was rushing home to my sick brother, but couldn’t tell them.  I worried that I would be arrested for leaving a nine year old at home by himself, even for just an hour.
So there I was, in the back of the van with three armed truant officers.  Armed.   Seriously?  I guess I was intimidating.

Next to me was a large, black, metal box covered in netting that made the seat sag.  The woman asked me questions:  “Who’s your daddy?  Do you know where you live?”  In the still traffic, the guy in the shotgun seat was fixing his combed and gelled hair in the mirror.  The driver turned on the radio, which immediately went to a swearing Eminem.  The van smelled so bad I was sure there was a dead person smashed inside the box.

I felt a buzz from my phone.  My Mom.  Thankfully, the police officer told me to pick up.
“Where are you?”  She asked
“Ummm…In a police van.”  With three gunmen, I should have added (or not).
“WHAT?”

The police officer laughed and took my phone, introduced herself to my mom.  She told my Mom that I was lucky not to be in Bushwick at the Head Quarters.  Harsh, right?

They took me to St. Francis College, where my Dad teaches.  The security guards, who know me, laughed as I was escorted in.  They handed me over to the assistant to the dean and she took me to my Dad.

The only reason I was mad was because I had wasted an hour of working time:  arrested development.    One of the SFC math teachers (I was in the class but now I’m not) would introduce a new problem by saying, “You may have learned this is high school, junior high school, reform school, or prison.”  Well, this wasn’t quite any of those places, but I did learn some things:   I can’t be outside by myself between 9:30 and 12:00, looking like Holden Caulfield is a bad thing, and truant officers are armed.

Those are things that I could never have learned at “real” school.

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