Lex and I received a note that Melanie’s teacher pinned to her shirt, and dared her to take off, to make sure that we saw it. It appears that our happy-go-lucky daughter has developed a serious aversion to doing her homework.
“I did it in class.”
No, our little Mel did not do her homework in class. She did work like it in class and decided that she didn’t need the practice of also working on it at home. Consequently, she had nothing to turn in when she got to school in the morning. According to Mel, her outside playtime would be seriously “compomiced” if she had to stay inside and do homework instead of playing on her new tire swing in the front yard. Poor Mel. She really does try, doesn’t she?
We could have yelled, we could have put her on restriction. We could have done a lot of things. But we decided to scare the crap out the little con artist instead.
We rummaged through the files and found some old court documents from several years back when Hubert was trying to get the ranch away from Lex. They still looked like they were in good shape, so we sat Mel down in the den and started the Lex and Amanda Community Play House’s version of that new stage play, “Do Your Homework.” And we made sure that Lorrie was at Martha’s so that she couldn’t interrupt and blow our story to bits.
“Do you know what this is, Mel?” Lex asked as she sat Mel on her lap. She handed me the document to unfold.
Melanie shook her head ‘no’.
I unfolded the document and gave it back. Lex quickly passed the court document in front or our daughter’s eyes so that she could see that it was official.
“There is a man in prison right now who should have done his homework and found out that this exists. Because he didn’t, he did something that got him arrested and convicted and put in prison for 15 years.”
Mel’s eyes widened and she swallowed hard.
Lex looked at me, because she couldn’t lie to the kids without them knowing it immediately. I, on the other hand, had no such problem.
“Mel,” I said, “a man came to our house and asked for your Momma. When Lex came to the door, he handed her a paper like this and said that she had been served.” When Mel’s expression showed that she didn’t understand, I said, “That means that she was being taken to court because the paper said that another person claimed that her land blocked the neighbor’s land from having access to water. And the neighbor needed water for his cattle. It was all a lie, Mel.”
“Yes. The way the document was worded made it look like we had done something very wrong. But it also said that the neighbor would settle for a half-million dollars so that they could bring in their own water source.”
“What did you and momma do?”
“We did our homework, which is something that the man should have done. You see, he used the name that he had seen on the fencepost at the entryway to that property when he made up his phony story and tried to sue us. But, when your momma bought that land eight years ago, she never got around to painting over that name. We double checked and, sure enough, the man was trying to fool us into paying him a lot of money for what turned out to be our own property. We also found out that no one had filed any lawsuit against us, and the whole thing was an attempt to get his hands on our money.
“He should have gone to the county assessor’s office because they have the name of the owners of all the land in this county. Then he would have known not to mess with us. But he didn’t do his homework.”
Mel gulped. Her eyes started to show that she knew we were going to talk about her homework.
“It turns out that this man had made a lot of money from other people who believed what was in his phony court summons. They paid him off so that they wouldn’t have the expense of a trial.”
“But you knew he was lying, right mommy?”
“Not right away. But when we did our own homework, we realized that he was a very bad man and we sent the sheriff after him.”
I took a glimpse at Lex’s face. She seemed positively captivated by my story. In fact, she said, “What happened next?” Then she realized that she had been caught up in the story and cleared her throat and tried again. “You should tell Mel what happened next.”
“Mel. Because he was such a bad man and had taken so much money from people that he had no right to sue, the judge put him prison for at least 15 years.”
“Do you know why we are telling you about this, Mel?” Lex asked. Sure, I go though concocting all these details and Lex gets to bring it home and tell Mel the moral of the story.
“You should always do your homework. You may have done the same thing before, but you should always do your homework so that you don’t get into trouble one way or another.”
Mel started crying, sobbing, snot running down her face. “I’m sorry, “she cried. “I’ll bring my homework home.”
Guess whose impeccable timing caused her to return from Martha’s just then? Mel ran to her sister and clung to her and pleaded, “Don’t let Sheriff Jeremy take me to jail!” Mel was inconsolable and her sister was pissed off.
Lorrie held her sister while she cried and asked us accusingly, “What did you two do this time?”