"Hey, what's his new girlfriend like?" my friend Nicole asked me about her son, who just happened to be in my homeroom class. "Can you get us a picture off the records? He won't bring her home. Have a look what sort of grades she's getting."
My jaw fell open. I assumed that would convey my shock to her but it clearly didn't.
"You've got to be kidding. I can't and don't want to be involved in anything like that. Data is strictly confidential, Nicole."
"Well, just a little photo."
Nicole did not get the principle of confidentiality. Neither did she seem to understand that her son, who was 16, needed to decide for himself what his mother knew about his life. I decided to steer all future conversations away from school, but she would call me at the slightest sniff of gossip involving staff or students.
It reached the point where I had to check I never got tipsy on a night out with her as I knew she would be straight in there looking for an indiscretion. She never got the hint and never gave up.
I decided she needed to be taught a lesson and that I would feed her little bits of disinformation to add to the effect. I would pretend to remember suddenly that I shouldn't be saying such things.
Choosing a story to make up was difficult. I consulted a couple of coworkers. We didn't want to bring the school into a viral scandal or involve students. We decided to make a story up about Gemma, the art teacher, who was openly free-spirited and readily agreed.
But, I had not realized the true depth of Nicole's ability to pry into other people's business. My ringer woke me after I had gone to bed early one night.
"Hey," said Nicole, "Did you hear about that art teacher in your school??"
Nicole filled me in on all the details from our fake rumors before we'd even started to spread them. Of course, a pro gossip like Nicole would have mole in my close group of friends from work. It's like you even think about posting something on Facebook and she's already giving you advice on how to punctuate it. I should have known better.
Teachers, this is why you don't gossip around parents.
The writer is a high school teacher.
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