Senior Year Sick Notes

As part of our week on “character spin-offs,” I’m sharing an epistolary piece on parenting a high school senior. (Been there, done that. Two times.)




Dear Ms. Tissler,

I hope you had a terrific summer! Just wanted to let you know that Nick is missing school for the next 3 days. We’re heading to the west coast for college visits! Too far away, but I’ll let him look.

12th grade is going to be so great!

Thank you,





Good morning, Ms. Tissler! Writing to let you know that Nick will not be in school today. He has a cold. Or possibly mold allergies? (Congested and sore throaty.)






Hi Ms. Tissler,

Nick is sick again, this time with a “stomach thing.” Senior year does not seem to be good for his health.






Good morning, Ms. Tissler –

Nick will be at school eventually. Please do not ask him about his neckwear – he has a hickey. That Madison Greeley does not seem to have any self-control. (Just fyi: she had a “rager” last Saturday with zero adult supervision. You did not hear it from me.)





Hi Ms. Tissler,

Nick is feeling bad again this morning. He happens to have a 5-page English essay due 7th period, but he plans to feel better by then so that he can turn it in on time. Do what you wish with that information.





Dear Ms. Tissler,

I hear you’re expecting a baby – congratulations. I hope you have a lot of stamina.

Nick is pretending to go on a college visit today. He’s actually going to Boston just to visit friends. He is set on San Diego, so I don’t know who he thinks he’s kidding.

CA is far away, yes, but I’m starting to think it might be perfect.




Ms. Tissler,

Nick got rejected from USD, so we’re back in the thick of applications. He will stay home today, working on supplemental essays for the other 8 colleges he’s applying to. Also, he’s in a terrible mood. All the time. Mostly with me.





Happy New Year, Ms. Tissler,

Hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I didn’t. We were doing applications the entire time, and I seriously mean the entire time, like without stop, as in that is ALL WE DID. There was very little “peace,” or “love,” and certainly no “joy” in our household.

Anyway, I have been trying to wake Nick up for the past 2 hours, and I give up. He has an alarm and is far too old to have me shriek at him all morning.

So maybe he’ll be at school, maybe he won’t. Who the hell knows.





Hi Ms. Tissler,

Nick is unwell. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “Hop off my dick, ma.”

So that’s all I have to say about that.

Have a great day.




Halle-freaking-lujah. Nick got accepted to his 4th choice school. I ran out and bought him a full set of Tumi luggage.

So, for some reason, he just told me he needs to take a “personal day.” “Yeah? Well, so do I,” I said back. And we both went to our rooms and slammed the doors. I do not wish to investigate, so please let me know if he bothered going to school.





Having stayed up half the night on PornHub, Nick is experiencing severe computer eyestrain and will not be in school today. I warned him.

Enjoy your day.



Hi Ms. Tissler,

I hope you had a restful spring break. I did not. Nick had a party the one night I was away, and someone (I think it was that Madison Greeley) threw up expensive scotch all over my Womb chair. The whole apartment smells like a brewery.

Furthermore, Nick is staying home today to apply Aquaphor to his new tattoo. He got it to go with the one he got in Boston last November and never told me about. They’re both fucking hideous but whatever.



Nick is hungover and will not be at school today. I would not expect him in tomorrow either. – Nancy




Please remind me of the EXACT date and time of graduation. Put another way: When will this goddamn nightmare be over?

Last night Nick got busted with a fake ID and 2 ounces of weed. He will be at school directly after his hearing at noon.



Me again.

Turns out, Nick will be out all day – he got kicked in the testicles by an unfriendly cellmate. He is home on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on his balls. I don’t even give a shit.





Hi Ms. Tissler,

Belated congrats on your new kid. Good luck with that.

Nick apparently forgot to pick up his cap and gown. If he comes by your desk today, could you please throw it at him, hard? Like as hard as you possibly can.

Counting down the seconds until graduation,


Author: Amy Poeppel

Amy Poeppel grew up in Dallas, Texas and left the south to attend Wellesley College. Since then, she has worked as an actor, a high school English teacher, and most recently as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a school in New York City. Her three fabulous boys are all off in Boston attending school, and she and her husband now split their time between New York and Frankfurt, Germany. A theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS was workshopped at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into her first novel.

11 Replies to “Senior Year Sick Notes”

  1. I am a college counselor in an “elite” boarding school. I am also the parent of a 17 year old boy – who attends the local public high school. I am on the floor laughing. Amy, wish you lived closer! Thanks for hitting the nail on the head. Somehow, life with a teen aged boy CAN be funny when you realize how normal this all is.

Comments are closed.