I was a little late for the boys’ breakfast on my first morning in the Bedrossian bubble when I got to the kitchen at 8:30. Jacob told me that him and Matteo got up at 8, but I reckon it takes less time for an 11 year old and a 9 year old to get ready in the morning than I thought it did. They were in their school clothes, and I felt kinda weird being dressed like I was, still that was all I had, and I wasn’t a regular kind of teacher…so I couldn’t be expected to wear a tie the way Dr. Peterson does.
I wasn’t expecting it, but I ended up having breakfast with the family. I didn’t know that the boys ate with their parents. I felt a little like I was intruding on a family ritual, but they were nice to me and made me feel welcome. Maya was already perfectly dressed and made up (and wearing that perfume), although Robert was still in pajamas and a robe. I don’t really know Maya and Robert all that well, but I gotta give the boys a lot of credit for doing a good job of bringing me into the breakfast conversation. It was pretty dang mature of them to notice that I might have been feeling uncomfortable.
Maya actually did the cooking. She made us scrambled eggs and bacon and English muffins…while poor Matteo got toast and fruit and his glass of milk. He put on a good face, but, look, I’m not stupid, and it had to have bothered him that he was getting starvation rations while we got bacon and eggs.
“We have a weigh-in this morning,” Maya told me while she was pouring me another cup of coffee. “We got so involved with setting up the bubble yesterday that we totally forgot. So you’ll be in on it, Hunter. It’ll look good having you here and on camera, since you’re the one most responsible for Matteo’s program.”
“Yes ma’am,” was all I could figure out to say.
“You know, we have to do something about the ‘yes ma’am’,” Maya said. “Please, call me Maya. Everyone else does. The show’s called At Home with Maya, after all…not At Home with Ma’am or At Home with Mrs. Bedrossian.”
I tried to explain that it was a Southern thing and that I was brought up saying ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no, sir”…but this is California and everyone’s super casual here. I told her I would try to call her Maya, but that it was going to take some getting used to.
After we finished eating, we went upstairs to Maya’s bathroom, which was where the scale is. Joyce a while back said she was curious to know what Maya Bedrossian’s bathroom was like. She’d of liked it if she’d been there…or been super jealous. If y’all thought that the bathroom in the pool house was luxurious, you need to see Maya’s bathroom. There was marble everywhere, and the walls were a shiny black with gold flecks behind it. There were double sinks, a huge tub, a shower…and a bunch of things that ordinary bathrooms don’t have. Like a huge make-up table with a big swiveling chair so that she could do her own make-up, or be worked on by hair stylists or whoever all else. And there was the tanning capsule – they hadn’t’ made that up when they threatened to stick me in it back when Baseball Boy made his debut in board shorts. And there was the old-fashioned doctor’s scale.
Me, Maya, Robert and Matteo all traipsed upstairs, where we were met by Ethan, the cameraman and the sound man. That should give y’all an idea of how big Maya’s bathroom is: there was plenty of room in it for seven people plus a camera.
Then we got the bad news…and it was seriously bad news.
Matteo gained a pound.
How he was able to do that, given how little he was eating and how much he was exercising was a mystery.
“We should never have let him have the pie at Thanksgiving,” Robert said. “I knew that was a mistake.”
“It was Thanksgiving,” Maya said, I reckon defending Matteo. “But we do have to call the dietician and see what she says.” She looked annoyed. “It’s unfortunate that Matteo won’t be able to go see her this week. We need her advice.”
There were a few things I could think of saying…but I kept my mouth shut. The only thing I did do was put my arm around Matteo’s shoulders when I thought for a second he might be fixin to cry. I didn’t want him crying on TV…and the camera was there filming his reaction during the crisis.
Because it was a crisis. Or at least felt like one.
Finally Maya said something comforting to Matteo: “it’ll be ok, you’ll lose two pounds next week and everything will be back on schedule.” Ok, sort of comforting. Matteo didn’t seem overly relieved by what his mom told him…but he did stop looking like he was fixin to cry.
I got the boys together and took them down the hall to where their rooms and the schoolroom were. They took their seats at their desks, and I got into position at Dr. Peterson’s desk…
…and Baseball Boy became a teacher of something other than baseball.
The first thing I had to do was something to help fix the mood. Matteo was still super upset, and I could tell Jacob was as well. The diet had been ok as long as it was working, but, now that it’s not working, everything was thrown into chaos. I didn’t want Matteo crying, but I did feel like somebody should try and talk to him about it. I just wasn’t sure if doing it in front of Jacob was the right thing to do or not. I mean I’ve seen Jacob give Matteo shit, and this absolutely wasn’t the right time for that.
We were back to me using what I’d learned in sports psychology class on a couple of boys, one of whom hated sports. But it was the best I had to go on, and, not to pat myself on the back too much, but I’ve been doing ok with Matteo thus far.
“You wanna talk about it, dude?,” I asked. “Or do you want to go somewhere private?”
“I can talk about it here. Jacob knows what happened.”
“Did you not follow your diet?,” he asked. I wasn’t sure that was the right thing to ask, but I was kinda interested myself if Matteo had been cheating.
“It’s gotta be one of the three,” I said, trying to smile.
“Yeah, I did cheat. But not that much. Not enough to gain a whole pound. But I did go downstairs the night after Thanksgiving and have another piece of pie. Ok…I had a piece from each pie… I didn’t want it to look like there was too big a piece missing from any of them, so I took a little piece…and I swear it was only a little piece…of each of the pies.”
“How many pies were there?,” I asked. It made me sound like a detective after that, which wasn’t the effect I was trying to make.
“Three. Apple, pumpkin and pecan. And I love pecan pie,” he said.
I smiled. I’m a big fan of pecan pie, too. I even like chess pie, which is kinda like pecan pie without the pecans. It’s another of those southern things Yankees have trouble understanding lol.
“Well,” I said, thinking fast, “I’m not going to tell on you. And neither will Jacob.”
“Of course not,” said Jacob, “I was there when he cheated.”
“But you might want to consider telling your mother yourself. Feeling guilty is not a good feeling.” I was also thinking about the times when Dad told me he was disappointed me…the ones that felt worse than having baseball taken away for a week. I couldn’t come between Matteo and his mother…I have a job to hold onto, and who wants to come between a kid and his parents…so, as far as I could see, the only thing to do was to encourage Matteo to do the right thing. Not that I’d of blamed him if he didn’t come clean with Maya and Robert: they were totally blind to what was going on with Matteo…and they’d probably go and put a padlock on that super fancy refrigerator they have if they found out he was taking food in the middle of the night. “But it’s up to you. You have to decide for yourself what’s right.”
“Okay, Hunter,” Matteo said in a way that made me feel that he was gonna think about it. That gave me a good feeling: maybe I’d said the right thing after all, even though I was flying blind.
Let me also say that I don’t blame Matteo about the pies. They’re fuckin starving the poor kid, and, if you’d seen how he ate the pecan pie at the Thanksgiving they filmed for the show, you’d realize just how badly the kid is suffering and how he must be dreaming about food. The whole thing sucks…but the majority of the viewers of the show are behind the idea of the diet and think Maya is a great parent for caring enough to starve her younger son like she’s doing. Look: all I can do is try and be a friend to Matteo.
“Okay y’all. School time.”
“What are we going to do?,” Jacob asked.
“Y’all gotta bear with me some,” I said. “I’m new to this. I thought we’d do some math…”
Jacob made a face.
“Can you do math?,” Jacob asked again.
“I’ll have you know I was great at math. I can manage what’s in your math books here…and maybe some other stuff too.” I was getting an idea, but I didn’t want to spring it on them as yet. “Then we can do some American history…”
I held up the book I found yesterday.
“That’s Jacob’s book,” Matteo protested.
“Yeah…well…I think you’re smart enough to learn some 6th grade American history, dude. And then I understand you’ve been doing some writing assignments. We’ll keep busy,” I said, “and it’ll be cool, you’ll see.” I really really hoped I was right about that.
Turned out it was ok. I was used to working with the boys separately on sports, so it worked out working with them separately on math. I gave one of them a set of problems while I taught the other one something new. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad…but nobody whined, so I figured I was ahead of the curve.
I’m pretty good on my American history, too. Since we were hearing about the electoral college so much in the news with the president’s attempts to win the election, I decided to teach them about that and that part of the Constitution. It wasn’t in Jacob’s book, but, by doing something off-book, I didn’t have to worry about Matteo complaining about something not being at his grade level. Maybe I was supposed to do what was in the book, but, honestly, it was more fun explaining the Constitution to kids who didn’t know all that much about it. And I think they thought it was interesting.
Then I asked them to go back to their writing assignments, but Matteo piped up that they were finished and I had to correct them. I reckoned I was gonna be able to correct most of the mistakes two young boys made, even if my grammar can get kinda sloppy. But neither Jacob nor Matteo was gonna be too worried about ‘who’ and ‘whom’ lol. In the meantime I had to find something to keep them busy. I figured another writing assignment was a good idea, but I didn’t know what to assign them.
So I went back to an idea I had in the morning.
“Tell y’all what,” I said. “How about you start your own blogs?”
“How do we do that?,” Jacob asked.
“Easy. Just start writing about what you’re doing.” Or about a really bad Valentine’s Day date you had with your locoass ex-girlfriend lol. “Write about today. And how your baseball tutor is suddenly teaching you all about the Constitution. Or anything. You’ve got half an hour until lunch, I reckon. That should keep you busy enough while I have a look at what you wrote for your assignments.
I managed to correct their papers, although it felt soooo weirdass taking up Dr. Peterson’s red pen and marking up a kid’s work.
That got us safely to lunchtime.