A girl tries to find a unmarked error in her paper returned to her by her teacher.
| A cold chill ran down my spine when Mrs. Fields, my middle school teacher, asked me to stay after school. What did I do? The words echoed endlessly in my head until the end of class. When the final bell rang, I franticly searched the classroom for help. I shifted nervously in my seat and felt every passing sympathy glance from my fellow students as they quickly shuffled out the door. “Marcella. Please come forward.” Hearing, my teacher speak my name broke the spell keeping me glued to my seat. My petrified heart beat faster, as I reluctantly approached her desk. With a worried look in her eyes, she handed me a sealed envelope along with a recent assignment I handed in on Monday. “What’s wrong with my paper?” I nervously asked. She said she had concerns about my thank-you letter and needed to see my mother immediately. I quickly scanned the single sheet of paper with my neatly written words to find my grade and comments, but surprisingly it revealed none. That’s weird. No red marks. I wonder what I did wrong? Gathering my items, I mulled over why she needed to talk to my mother.
On the journey home, I glared at the envelope with my mom’s name painstakingly carved in red ink across the middle. I was sure I followed all the directions. Maybe I forgot something. But that’s impossible! Michele, my annoying older sister, came out of her KEEP OUT room and unexpectedly decided to help me. I anticipated the usual comments of this sucks or blows. However, this time she shocked me because she said it was okay. My sister who under no circumstances is never polite to me said it was OKAY that interprets as FANTASTIC in my book! I even wrote more than the teacher expected. Maybe that’s it. Oh why didn’t I stop writing at three? Is that the reason I was getting into trouble? I just could not find the issue she found. Frustrated I flung my backpack to the sidewalk and franticly searched for my paper. Rereading it, I tried to pretend to be my teacher and read it as she would have.
As the words filled my head, they took me back to my cousin’s house, and the exhilarating weekend I enjoyed. Being around my infant cousin for the first time, I could not wait to jump in and help take care of her. Everything about her screams, “New and Exciting!” She cooed when I rocked her, and together we giggled when she passed gas. I mastered how to change her toxic diaper …which was seriously gross...and properly support her tiny little head while holding her. Towards the end of the weekend, my cousin even let me watch her as she straightened up the house. What was wrong with my letter? I thanked her for letting me stay the weekend at her home and watching her infant daughter. “This is a first-rate paper!” I screamed into the swirling wind on my way home.
The sky grew dark as I noticed my house come into view. I knew my mother would be home by 4pm. I still had time to figure out what went horribly wrong, with my paper. I placed the malevolence envelope on the empty dinner table and proceed to melt into the couch. Per instructions, the letter needs to include a greeting, an expression of gratitude, and finally regards. The greeting and final regards was the simplest parts. All I had to do was replace the insert name here with my cousins and my own. There was no way I could have messed that up. But, just in case, I double checked for the phrases appearance at the beginning and ending. Yep, there they were, just as she instructed. The expression of gratitude was the hardest portion of the letter. Was it possible one of my periods looked like a comma? Carefully I checked off every single mark. Nope the commas look like commas and the periods look like periods. Next, I examined every word for any type of spelling error. Nothing there either. Scratching my head, I looked at the sentences to insure they all contain a verb and a noun? All accounted for. This paper met all the requirements. I ought to of gotten an A not a See me after class. The noise in the room escalated into an unpleasant silence. I nervously glanced back at the envelope setting on the table. Maybe I should open it and then put it in another envelope. At least then I would know what was wrong. Before I could act, the back door slowly opened.
Tears welled up in my eyes as soon as I saw my mom. I ran to her and pleaded for mercy. Bawling, I presented the envelope. Trying to explain, between my gasps for breath, I fearfully, gave her my paper to read. As I waited for my punishment, I could hear my mother start to chuckle. Confusion crossed my mind. “Don’t worry, pumpkin, you are not in any trouble.” She said while stroking my hair. “But Mom,” I sobbed “please tell me what Mrs. Fields found wrong with my paper?” She said “Nothing appears to be wrong with your paper. You wrote a really nice thank you letter.” She reasserted me. “It’s just that you neglected to include the fact that your cousin was home at the time you were watching the baby.” Mom explained to me that the teacher misinterpreted my paper. Apparently, Mrs. Fields thought I was watching a newborn baby home alone for a whole weekend. She has concerns about the infant’s safety and my own. Mom told me not to worry, that everything’s okay, and she will talk to my teacher.
I still hear my mother tell the story of the one and only time I got in trouble at school. She likes to elaborate by claiming I brought down child services on my cousin. Everyone laughs at the story, but I remember how hard I struggled to find the error and the massive relief I felt spotting the A on my paper after the parent/teacher meeting. Today I realized not all possible mistakes relate to grammar, spelling, or from not following instructions correctly. Everyone can write a grammatically correct paper. Unfortunately, sometimes the fault can reside in the accuracy of the facts made available to the reader. By not including my cousin in the subject of my letter, my letter could be easily misinterpreted.
As I near the end of this essay, I can hear that inner little girl sobbing What’s wrong with my paper? In a panic, I break out the highlighters and painstakingly go through my paper line by line, making sure every word and every sentence relates in some way back to my idea. Only after everyone, I know stops taking my phone calls, or walks in the other direction, because they know I want them to read my paper, does her fear start to fade. Oh, she also asks if anything is misunderstood, or incorrect while reading this essay, please talk to me before calling my mom. Thank you.