My friend plopped down on the sofa, pulling a pillow over her head to muffle the wailing.
"I've failed as a parent."
I waited, assuming there was more.
"He doesn't want me to come to school for parent visitation day. According to him, American Education Week is a plot to make his life miserable."
I assured her this was normal. At 12, the apron strings are like bungee cords -- stretched taut in search of freedom, snapping back quickly for cash and a ride home.
"If I go, he will hate me for not respecting his wishes. If I don't go, I relinquish my right to whine about the public school system for an entire year!"
Nodding in sympathy I recalled the time my son had tried the same line on me. He was too old for me to be "checking up on him." Visiting parents were not cool. It would hold him back socially.
"What did you do," she sniffled.
We made a deal. I would wear my Eva Gabor wig, pretend I spoke only French and avoid actual eye contact with him.
In return he would raise his hand for at least five questions, wear the sweater his grandmother gave him for his birthday and refrain from using the word "yo" for one week.
"And this worked?" She sounded dubious.
Mais oui. It worked so well we're trying it again. This year I'll be the tall, lithe blond at the pencil sharpener.
Study hard, Glen Burnie.
Rescue demonstrations, fire prevention tips and a visit by Hector the Fire Clown are scheduled for the Glen Burnie Volunteer Fire Company Open House, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the fire station, 9 Central Ave.
This annual event affords the community the opportunity to see firsthand the commitment of the 70-member volunteer unit.
Visitors will see a demonstration of the effectiveness of sprinkler systems; a "Jaws of Life" simulation; and the stop, drop and roll procedure to help extinguish flames on clothing.
The Fire Pup will make his first appearance as the mascot of the Glen Burnie station. The costume was donated by area businesses to help promote fire safety. A popular purple dinosaur is also scheduled to make an appearance.
Comic and coloring books will be distributed to the children. Adults can register to win a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher.
For additional information, call 760-3680.
Amber Lynn Coffman of Glen Burnie will be one of three young ladies representing Maryland at the Miss National Pre-Teen Princess Pageant in Orlando next week.
A student at Old Mill Middle School South, Amber won the opportunity to participate in the competition at a regional contest in September.
In addition to being an honor roll student, Amber is a Girl Scout, a majorette and a representative to her school's student government. She is also the founder of "Happy Helpers for the Homeless," a youth program that prepares 200 bag lunches for less fortunate families in the area.
Several sponsors in the area have contributed to help Amber continue on to the Florida pageant, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 160, Crain Automotive, J. F. Johnson Lumber Co. and The Canopy.
Fresh citrus fruit delivered in time for the holidays is being sold by the Glen Burnie High School Boosters Club through Dec. 3.
Naval oranges or pink grapefruit can be ordered in two sizes: two-fifths bushel for $12 or four-fifths bushel for $18. The fruits cannot be mixed.
Orders can be picked up between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dec. 18 at the school's industrial arts building.
Proceeds from the sale will benefit the sports programs at GBHS.
To order call Shelly Gibson, 768-5328, or leave a message on 768-1959. Checks should be made payable to the Glen Burnie High School Boosters, c/o Shelly Gibson, 725 Wimmer Road, Glen Burnie 21061.
Straight As on a report card will earn a student half price off the $2.50 regular admission at a youth dance, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Country Club Recreation Association building on Paul Marr Drive.
Students ages 14 and younger are invited.
Refreshments will be sold throughout the evening.
Thomas Paolino will be the speaker at an open forum, 7 p.m. tomorrow in the Glen Burnie High School cafeteria, 7550 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. Students, parents, teachers, board members, school administrators, legislators and community members are invited.
Mr. Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, will discuss the function of TAAAC and what it does in the school system. He also will talk about how teachers and parents can work together to benefit students' education.
The forum is sponsored by the County Council of PTAs.
For additional information call Cathy Guay, Area I representative, 768-3179.
Plan a stop on your Sunday drive at a craft fair sponsored by the enrichment department of Corkran Middle School, noon to 5 p.m., 7600 Quarterfield Road.
Jewelry, holiday decorations and gift items will be sold in the cafeteria.
A limited number of spaces with tables are available for rent for $20.
For information, call 222-6493.
"The Business of Small Business" is the focus of a one-day seminar 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Arundel Center North. The Northern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce is co-sponsoring the seminar with The Small Business Center.
The goal of the program is to help the small-business owner develop or improve upon a comprehensive business plan. Topics include legal strategies, computer needs analysis, creative advertising and bookkeeping information.
Registration fees are $89 for chamber members or $99 for nonmembers. The fee includes materials, workbook and lunch.
To register, call 766-8282.
* FJS Management will play host to the November Networking Night for the NAACCC, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Oak Park Professional Center, 30 Greenway.
The cost is $6 with an advance reservation, $10 at the door.
For reservations, call 766-8282.
Another Baltimore Commodore Users Group will meet from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the North County Library on Eastway. The club offers information and discussions on Commodore 64, 128 and Amiga computers.
Scheduled demonstrations include a trio of 24-bit color graphics boards for the Amiga-Opalvision, Retina and Picasso II and the Handi-Scanner, a graphics hand scanner for the Commodore 64.