15 Minutes


I’m famous for much longer than 15 minutes. And, I admit, a bit proud of my fame. What, you might ask am I famous for? For calling the principal a cunt!
Uh huh. It’s a story with legs. Why it was at least fourteen years ago that the incident happened. People are still talking about it today. Gotta love that.

I was taught, by example NOT to fear authority. Taught to stand up for myself. When in life I needed to exercise this skill, I did. When it comes to standing up for my kids? Watch fuckin’ out for me. Seriously, don’t mess with my kids, ever! I will go ghetto on you so fast.

My older son had a run in with the principal from our local grammar school that I barely remember. But he might have been in the wrong. He was pretty out there and I didn’t come to his defense.

My daughter Augie was a different story. The principal was totally in the wrong. There had been these elaborate and sexually explicit drawings on a note to some boy. He was Augie’s “boyfriend” at the time. Augie’s name was signed to the note. But, it was NOT penned by Augie. She is incapable to this day (twenty-five years old) of drawing even a stick figure. I too, cannot draw a thing. The family of the boy were alarmed enough to turn this note into the principal. The principal called Augie in to her office to ask her about it. Augie said she didn’t write it, but the principal insisted she did. So I showed up in the principal’s office when I heard about it to confront her. I yelled at her but not in some ghetto way. I was just forthcoming and standing up for my daughter. Augie was being held accountable for something she didn’t do. Augie didn’t have a big enough voice to fully express how wronged she was, but I do. When I went into the principal’s office that day, she put up her hand in my face and snarled through those braces on her teeth “NOT NOW FREDDE!” then she walked away. Very provocative response. Of course it achieved what she wanted. It silenced me.

Then, she did a shady thing to my youngest son. All the little kids in the second grade had a game they played where they would knock their knees into each other while standing in a line. Barnaby didn’t make the game up and he didn’t start the game that day. The kid in front of Barnaby lost his balance and did hurt himself a bit, nothing to write home about. But he was crying and they placed the blame on the one standing behind this particular kid. Barnaby. So the principal made my son stay in her office the rest of the day, without lunch.

Withholding lunch is enough to send most mothers over the edge. Jewish mothers, like me might go ballistic. I had had it with her. That nasty principal had clearly run her reign of terror far too long. Seventeen years too long. One year was probably enough for this principal. How long were Imelda Marcos or Eva Peron in
power I wonder. I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea of how I was feeling about her. I was also fueled at the moment when I heard of yet another injustice taking place. A family in our school with a kid fighting a huge battle with cancer, had asked the principal’s permission to take the class on a field trip to visit their son in the hospital. It would boost their very sick kid’s morale. The principal nixed the idea. See what I mean? Cunt.

So, that very day after hearing about her keeping Barnaby in her office and knowing her answer to that family, I walked down the hall and in frustration whispered to Barnaby’s teacher (who I thought I was chummy with) “she’s such a CUNT!” Trust me when I say it was said in hushed conspiratorial tones. No one heard. But, that teacher was a snitch. Don’t mind me, I just love that word snitch and wanted to use it in a story. That word is like something out of a gangster movie in the 30’s.

For the next several years, I might be in the grocery store and overhear someone whisper, “There’s the woman that called the principal a cunt.” I would turn and take a deserving bow, point back at myself and proudly say “That’s me!!!” It was not an exclusive club, she was pretty universally disliked by most parents at the school.

Around the same time that I had called the principal a cunt, the neighbors up the street were pulling their kid out of our local elementary school (within walking distance) and driving now to a different school. They had a very rough time with a kindergarten teacher and tried many times to discuss the issue with the principal. She wouldn’t call them back or see them about it at all. Sound familiar? I did however receive a four-page letter from the principal about penal codes and all kinds of threats to me about my language on her campus. When I told my neighbors about this, they knew they had made the right decision to change schools. They were appalled that this is what she was doing with her time, writing me a threatening letter.

When Augie was about to graduate from this grammar school, two years after the letter writing incident, it was revealed who the girls were that wrote that incriminating letter. I never wanted those girls to get into trouble. I didn’t want to be the “snitch” but I did ask the principal to apologize to Augie, now that we know the truth. And again, it was TALK-TO-THE-HAND!

I believe I have the perfect recipe that goes well with the C-word. Something very sweet. And you might want to bake these for a teacher or principal who deserves them.
Clementines Butterscotch Brownies
Servings: 12 to 16

Note: Adapted from Clementine Bakery in Los Angeles

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3.5 ounces) flour

11/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9.25 ounces) dark brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 extra-large egg

1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, stir the brown sugar into the melted butter. Stir in the egg, then the vanilla.

4. Stir in the dry ingredients, then fold in the nuts.

5. Place the batter in a greased 8-inch square baking pan and bake until set (a toothpick inserted will have moist crumbs), 25 to 30 minutes.

6. Remove from heat and cool slightly before serving.

at Augie's graduation from the grammar school

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9 Responses to “15 Minutes”

  1. Lawrence Reynolds says:

    You go girl. That snitch was a snatch.

  2. Barbara Dudley says:

    Now this is the Fredde I know and love…Watch out! I don’t remember which school the kids went to but my, how politically grown up you’ve become!!! xo

  3. I have come up against the powers that be once or twice in my day…like you say, when it comes to your kids …watch out! I consider myself to be quite a gentle soul, but I can be a real tigress when it comes to my girls!
    Bravo for you!

  4. DBoos says:

    I did the same thing to a 3rd grade teacher of Jason’s once. She stood him up and embarassed him in front of a classroom of children for doing something HE did not do. It was in MS, and it was also a “racial” incident. She was black, as was the child she was protecting. She assumed it was Jason, for what reason I will never know, as he was probably the nicest kid in school, but she hurt him deeply and when I picked him up, he was crying. I asked him what had happened, and what she said, and when he told me how her words affected him, he said” she made my heart feel like it wanted to crack”. Well that was it, and I went “ghetto” on her. Sometimes nothing else works, but in this case….it did. BTW…Jason was awarded the “principal’s choice” award for being the most thoughtful student that semester….an award he won 3 times during his years at that school. Love that you did that Fred!

  5. Mitch says:

    Good for you! There are a lot of injustices in public school. Our son was the victim of several, and I think that’s why he was eager to get out of the system. But you’re right; sometimes as a parent you’ve got to fight for your kid. And sometimes fights get a little nasty. All part of the game.

  6. Carol Ward Dudley says:

    Just lucky you were on the case. If you think back, one of the reasons some kids were so frightened is because parents never believed what the teachers said. Many got away with murder (teachers I mean) We were always wrong. I’ve got a doozie about the Dean of Edward’s prepschool in NYC – I really ripped him up but good over a kid in the class who stole one of my credit cards and charged up over $8,000. He wanted to keep it quiet. QUIET – inmoral -and me being kinda of the Mom of the class – most knew it anyway –

  7. twana brawly says:

    HaLarious!! Only u!!!!

  8. TMiller says:

    I love that story no matter how many times I hear it, and I know how much you love that word… I must say you have imparted a bit of that love to me ove the years and I now use it freely myself! Thanks Fredde for your voice and your fierce perspective on child rearing…xot

  9. simon says:

    here’s to difficult parents! We were just that and strangely enough, the best teachers at our boys school really liked us. The rest did not……
    If you can’t stand up for your kids, what message is that sending?
    xxx

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