【WBFK】 Distracted

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Mrs. Warren pursed her lips as she eyeballed Liam Santos gazing at Alex Camejo from across the classroom.

"Make sure you read the instructions carefully and work with the partner beside you." The grade 3 students started chattering lightly as they read over the worksheet, so Mrs. Warren turned around to erase the blackboard.

Alex himself was well-behaved, so she was certain that separating him from Liam in the classroom would put an end to the constant interruptions of giggles and whispers her lectures faced.

She zeroed her hearing in on her left ear, the side Alex's desk was on.

"What are you doing? Go back to your seat."

Alex's voice? She glanced over her shoulder in the direction of Alex's seat and let out a huff at the sight.

Liam had traveled across the classroom and was leaning his palms on Alex's desk. "What did you get for number one?"

The eraser spit up a cloud of chalk as Mrs. Warren slammed it down. "Liam Santos!"

The boy turned his head slowly in her direction, his mouth formed into a wince.

"Alex has his own partner."

He looked like he wanted to say something, but he gave a resigned expression and sulked back to his own desk where his partner was looking on boredly.

Rightfully so. She was sure just about everyone was sick of this―Liam's stubborn attachment to Alex.

〆〆〆

Mrs. Warren looked at the married couple before her, sitting in the child-sized chairs. A blue-eyed white woman with ash brown hair and a curly-haired, tanned Latin man were the parents of Liam Santos. 

She adjusted her own large rump in her chair and said, "Mr. and Mrs. Santos, thank you for meeting with me."

"Of course," Mrs. Santos replied.

Mrs. Warren thought Liam's attachment to Alex possibly had something to do with his mixed racial background. Perhaps he saw Alex, who was clearly Latino, as a way for him to connect with his own Latino father. "Well," the teacher began, "you're aware of Alex and Liam's friendship, correct?"

"Of course," Mrs. Santos replied with a careful smile.

"That's... fine, of course, but he's so adamant about being disruptive."

"Excuse me?" Mr. Santos raised a dark eyebrow.

"I'm sorry. I don't speak Spanish." She wasn't sure why he came in if he couldn't even understand the conversation.

There was an awkward silence and Mr. Santos put his hand on his wife's knee. Mrs. Warren looked up to see Mrs. Santos wearing a scary smile.

"Liam is being disruptive, you say?" Mr. Santos asked. "Is he talking during class with Alex or something?"

"Well, he was before I moved him. I thought putting some physical distance between them would help keep the class under control, but I catch him distracted quite often. It's not even a matter of Alex doing anything. For example, yesterday, I called on Liam and his eyes went from Alex to me. They should've been on me the entire time. It's a recurring problem; I'm concerned."

"What are you concerned about?"

Mrs. Warren figured the man wasn't too bright. "He's distracted."

"Okay..." The parents glanced at each other.

Mrs. Santos spoke, "Are his grades suffering?"

"Yes! I was just about to show you." She grabbed his recent test papers and passed them over.

"Is this from after you moved his seat?" Mr. Santos asked.

"Yes."

Mrs. Santos wore a flat expression. "His grades were better when they were sitting together," she muttered, then looked up. "Do you think he was cheating?"

"Oh, no. Because our desks are set up in pairs, I make two copies of tests so the student doesn't have the same version as the student beside him or her."

There was another silence and exchange of glances between the parents. "Okay..."

Mrs. Santos pushed the papers into her husband's hands and crossed her legs. "Well, our top concern is Liam's grades." She looked at her watch. "We've got to get going now. Thank you."

She stood up and her husband followed.

Mrs. Warren watched, unsure of whether or not her message had gotten through to the parents properly. "So, you'll talk to him?"

Mrs. Santos froze at the door, turned around, and stared. Her husband grabbed her shoulders and turned her back around towards the exit. "Goodnight, Mrs. Warren."

〆〆〆

Mrs. Warren stared open-mouthed at the note beside Mrs. Santos' signature on Liam's failed exam.

I'm concerned Liam's classroom environment isn't conducive to him earning the grades he's capable of.

〆〆〆

"What happened?" Liam asked, eyes widening at the torn paper Alex pulled from his folder.

"Tico almost ate my homework."

"Your tía's puppy?"

"Yeah."

Liam laughed and grinned.

That grin had been long missing but was back in full force since Mrs. Warren had rearranged the seats, putting the friends back together. There was much less giggling and interrupting during her lectures. It looked like moving Liam away had been the right decision, acting as a time out of sorts so that he could reflect on his actions.

Credit went to none other than Mrs. Warren who was sure to get praise when all of her class moved to the next grade with splendid reports.

All's well that ends well.

《《《

"Mom!" Liam ran into the kitchen, tossing his backpack on the couch.

Daniel looked up from the apple he was about to bite into. "Your mom's still at work. What's up?" He handed the apple to his son.

"Mom was right! I failed my test on purpose and then Mrs. Warren changed the seats! I'm beside Alex again!"

Daniel shot up from the fridge's produce drawer so fast he hit his head on the freezer. "Your mother told you to do what now?!" 

Liam moonwalked around the kitchen, raising the roof with the apple.

The father sighed and rubbed his aching head. Well, all's well that ends well.


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