Wondering What Your Kid Is Saying To That Nice Interviewer?

And there you are, sitting in the waiting area, while your 9-year-old son Steven is off interviewing with the head of admissions from Milton Middle School. You’re trying to wait patiently, but you can’t help wondering, “What will he talk about if I’m not there to prod him along? Will he stick to good topics? Will he ask interesting questions?”

Meanwhile, in the admissions office down the hall, the interviewer and Steven have taken their seats. (Brace yourself… Your kid may go off-script.)

Woman: So, Steven.

Steven: Yeah.

Woman: How’s it going?

Steven: Good.

Woman: How’re things at your school?

Steven: Honestly, not so good.

Woman: How was the tour?

Steven: Enough with the small talk.

Woman: Um, okay.

Steven: I saw kids with computers upstairs.

Woman: Right, we’re a laptop school, so all the students here have computers.

Steven: I’m not allowed to use computers. My parents say computers are evil.

Woman: Well, every student at this school has a laptop, starting in 5th grade, so evil or not, you’ll have one if you come here.

Steven: No, I won’t.

Woman: Yes, you will, if you come here, that is.

Steven: No way.

Woman: Yes, way.

Steven: Here’s the thing: My mom is old school. The only stuff I’m allowed to do is build things with organic wood architecture blocks and read books like Treasure Island and Pippi Longstocking, and I can only watch one movie a year, and it has to be black and white. My mom says computer technology is sucking the soul out of humanity.

Woman: …

Steven: My mom will never agree to this, so, let’s hear it: What happens next? Because I want a laptop, and I want one now.

Woman: You’ll get one. I mean, if you were to come to this school, she’ll have to agree to do things the way we do things. She won’t have a choice.

Steven: You clearly don’t know my mom.

Woman: Let’s move on.

Steven: What do the kids do with their computers?

Woman: Homework. Research. They email their teachers when they need to. Upload assignments. Stuff like that.

Steven: What about games?

Woman: What about them?

Steven: Can I play them? Like, if I have a laptop?

Woman: Not when you’re in class or supposed to be doing homework.

Steven: What about when I’m not in class? What about when my homework’s done?

Woman: I guess that will be up to you. And your mom.

Steven: Will anyone be able to tell what I’m doing? Like my mom? Or a teacher? Is there an app for that or something?

Woman: Well, if you’re in class, your teacher will want you focusing on the —

Steven: But when I’m at home?

Woman: Let’s move on, Steven, shall we? Tell me about Treasure Island —

Steven: Fuck Treasure Island. Can I open a Facebook account on my computer? How about SnapChat?

Woman: I … I don’t know.

Steven: So if I’m alone in my bedroom at home —

Woman: What you do in your bedroom is really between you and —

Steven: — and I have my computer with me, can I close the door?

Woman: Like I said, that’s not my —

Steven: My mom will say no. She’ll absolutely say no.

Woman: Well, there’s your answer then.

Steven: I’ll have to be smart about it. I bet I could sneak it in my room, by stuffing it down my —

Woman: How about sports, Steven? You play soccer or anything?

Steven: I can be very sneaky. I’m an excellent liar when I need to be.

Woman: Or arts? Do you like theater? Music?

Steven: I saw a kid upstairs who didn’t look like he was doing homework at all. I think he was watching a movie or something cool. He was laughing —

Woman: I know the computer thing can be pretty exciting when you first—

Steven: What if I start going to school here, and then I get kicked out and go to another school?

Woman: What about it?

Steven: Do I get to keep the laptop?

Woman: Sure, you’ll own it, so yeah.

Steven: Will you know what I’m doing with it, if I’m not a student here?

Woman: No, Steven, I won’t have the faintest idea of what you’re doing with your computer.

Steven: Can I take it to college with me?

Woman: You’ll be, like, 18 at that point, so you can do whatever the hell you want.

Steven: Oh, I’m definitely gonna do whatever the hell I want. I’ll play video games all the time, like the kind where I get to shoot and kill people. I’ll download horror movies with blood and guts in them.

Woman: Any other goals for your future, Steven? On any other topic?

Steven: So I was wondering… I would never watch porn or anything, but if someone did watch porn, would he get in trouble?

Woman: I’m gonna go with yeah, he’d get in big trouble.

Steven: Not that I’ll watch porn. I would never do that.

Woman: Of course you wouldn’t.

Steven: It was just a question. My mom says I should ask you lots of questions. To show you that I have a very curious mind.

Woman: Mission accomplished.

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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.

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