Son went back to school yesterday and like a secret agent tried desperately to find a chance to palm his reply to the young lady without anyone noticing. He never found his opportunity, in spite of her finding three or four non-reasons to hover quite close in unspoken hope during breaktimes.
They were in each others breathing space, in public, unable to say a word, and apparently it was torture.
He and his letter of reply went back to school again today, but, somewhere along the line, parted company, and this is where he realised quite how expert he had been at speaking in code.
The letter was handed in to his teacher who saw it was addressed to "?" and saw the self effacing way he had belittled his move up to the top maths set. In truth his admirer had been on the same table as him before he was moved up and had made a lot of how clever he is and how sad she is. He had replied that her handwriting was wonderful and that the silly maths test might have made him 'look like Einstein' (sic) but that top set wasn't all that wonderful.
Teacher asked him about the letter. He dared to make a lunge for it and insisted it was very private. She concluded, from that, that there were deep feelings involved, and that these were to do with top maths set not being wonderful.
There followed a very long (if one sided) heart to heart while she tried to get him to talk about his fears, stressed that he should bring worries like this to her attention, but managed to get no feedback from him at all barring a Bart like insistence that it 'wasn't him'; that his mother (me) had written most of it anyway, entirely against his wishes of course. Thanks Son.
She didn't buy that and so it went on and she was reduced to examining possible scenarios out loud. "Well now, if....." and all that.
She was doing her best and in the end gave him the letter back, saying he wasn't to bring any more like that into school but was to talk to her, instead.
After school he told me all about his thwarted love life and his annoyance at realising someone else must have found and read the letter, to find his name on it and give it to the right teacher. He was imagining worst case scenarios and generally cringing, but by the time we got home I had a rough picture of what really happened.
I've just got off the phone from speaking to Teacher, who was mercifully still in the building after hours on a Friday. It took quite a while for her to come to the phone although the secretary who went to get her was back in the office almost immediately, and I suspect she steeled herself by completing other things before picking up the handset, expecting a different tone of conversation.
Meanwhile son was furious that his business was being spread to all and sundry, but once Teacher realised that the whole thing was to do with respecting the wishes of an admirer from the lower maths set who had sworn undying love and also sworn him to absolute secrecy, in short that his total lack of cooperation was to do with a lady's honour, she started expressing relief, then laughing, and ended up aww-ing and cooing about how sweet it all was.
Son currently remains stony faced (may he never discover poker), trying to decide whether to admit his own relief that his teacher isn't even more angry (to him, plain speaking of concern/forcing him to listen = angry), or to berate me for the next 48 hours solid that now the entire teaching staff will know and it will be all my fault.
I think I got away with it.