Dear Mr. and Mrs. Roberts,
As you know, your son Tanner has exhibited model behavior throughout his time in my classroom. In the past week, however, I have noticed repeated instances of dishonesty. At this point I am only mildly concerned, but I want to inform you of the situation, so that ameliorative measures may be applied at school and at home.
It began early last week, when Tanner told various peers and authority figures that he would be absent from school on Friday, December 18 to attend a collegiate football event called the “AutoNation Cure Bowl.” I have never been one to squelch your son’s creativity. His active imagination is a beacon of light that shines upon the schoolday’s dull moments. But truancy is no joking matter, and I am disappointed in Tanner’s attempt to excuse himself from class on the basis of a clearly fictitious event.
After I gave Tanner a chance to come clean, his fabrications and evasiveness continued. He explained that the game was being played in Orlando, Florida. As I understand it, college bowl games take place in idyllic vacation destinations, not in city-size strip malls overrun by disgruntled, sweat-soaked parents and their hellions. And it’s nearly inconceivable that a “Cure Bowl” in support of breast cancer research could happen at the college level. Everyone knows that the NFL owns the rights to breast cancer and all awareness thereof. You surely paid a royalty to the league when you purchased the pink marker Tanner used for the handwritten excuse he left on my desk yesterday.
Several of Tanner’s friends were eager for details about his trip, and he continued to invent facts without remorse. According to Tanner, San Jose State is competing in the game. But the team’s 5-7 record on the year leaves them short of bowl eligibility, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of college football well knows. Tanner also concocted an opponent for the ineligible Spartans: the Georgia State Panthers. A valiant try for an eight-year-old, but obviously not a real school. Tanner must have glanced at the Cam Newton jersey Ryan was wearing that day, and done some quick improvisation, just like Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire. It’s no coincidence that Mrs. Rhinebeck just offered a lesson on Georgia O’Keeffe in art class. I was tempted to absolve him on the grounds of creativity alone, but his wanton fibbing did not end there.
That’s right, even when I threatened Tanner with time out, he doubled down. He claimed that “Georgia State” quarterback “Nick Arbuckle” is a family friend. Nick Arbuckle! The whimsical works of Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss have, no doubt, rubbed off on your son. I can only imagine his tales of Charlie Blumberton during basketball season, or maybe renowned Venezuelan pitching phenom Joaquin Zapatos will make an appearance this spring.
I do have some ideas that will help us handle this problem. The key is to show Tanner just how much his flights of fancy differ from observable reality. Make sure he watches the Rose Bowl, and the parade, too. The National Championship should also be required viewing, even if it keeps him up after midnight and he’s a zombie during subtraction the next day. He can use a calculator for math, but there is no calculator for honesty.
If we are vigilant in our duties as parents and teacher, I am confident that your bright, sweet young boy will move on from this brief foray with deception. I should also mention that your boy is so crafty and precocious that he nearly got away with his ruse. He only gave himself up when he said the game would be televised on CBS Sports Network, which, I mean, come on.
Dustin Petzold is the editor-in-chief of Crooked Scoreboard, and will be the halftime entertainment at the AutoNation Cure Bowl. You should follow him on Twitter.