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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Parent-Teacher Conference

“Why don't you folks come in? We're very happy when parents take enough of an interest in their child's work to meet with us.”

“We wouldn't think of not coming, but to be honest, we're a little surprised that you're relying on a parent-teacher conference to tell us how he's doing. Don't you send home report cards anymore?”

“No, we don't do midterm report cards here. We feel the analysis we do every sixth of the year should give you enough written guidance. If you want a report card, one is available in the Post.”

“I see.”

“Now, which one is your child?”


“First name or last?”

“Last name Mets. First name New. Middle initial Y. You have him on your chart right there: New York Mets.”

“Forgive me. Of course I recognize New Mets. We have to do thirty of these over the next three days. This is a very busy time for us. Before you know it, the second half of the year begins.”

“We understand.”

“Good. Let's get started then. I feel New Mets is progressing.”

“Progressing? Could you elaborate?”

“Certainly. His records show he's made tremendous strides since last year.”

“Well he should. We sat him down after last year and told him he can't expect the world to give a damn about him unless he's willing to work harder.”

“That's a good message, but I hope you used language that perhaps wasn't that strong.”

“Oh, I'm sorry. We try to watch our tongue around New, but he makes it so damn hard. Will you listen to me? I mean so hard.”

“I'm only his teacher and you're the parents, so we certainly respect your right to talk to him the way you see fit. But studies have shown that kids can be sensitive to abusive language or sentences casually laced with obscenities.”

“Gotcha. We'll try to watch it.”

“Fine. As I was saying, New is coming along. He shows up most days, something that didn't seem to be the case last year. He seems eager to learn but the results don't reflect it yet.”


“Understand that we try not to judge our students by archaic grading systems. We also understand that standardized tests are not necessarily foolproof. Yet there are certain examinations each child needs to pass to move on to the next level and New might not be ready yet.”

“You have to understand that New isn't a very good test-taker. I'm sure many of your students have that problem.”

“All due respect, Mr. and Mrs. Mets, I'd like to stick to your son New in this discussion. And I'm concerned that while he does well on some tests, he really struggles in others.”

“Which ones in particular?”

“Well, as you know, we like to divide the classroom into six sections and group the students four or five or six to a section. New is in a group of five. His skill sets are very comparable to the other four he sits with.”

“That's good, isn't it?”

“Yes, it's very good. But to be honest, New has been lagging behind the rest of his group most of the first half of this year.”

“Is it bad?”

“It's nothing he can't overcome. I'm not at liberty to discuss the other children in his group, but it's not like his peers have really overachieved — except for this one transfer student from Quebec who has surprised us a great deal. And that Braves boy — we thought he was going to miss the whole term, but he's got a lot of pluck.”

“Doesn't sound very good for New, then.”

“New is performing at level close to his friends Florida and Philadelphia. They spend a lot of time bunched up. In fact, I'm a little worried they've picked up some bad habits from each other. But they're not the ones whose interaction with New relates to that test-taking problem I mentioned.”


“It's that Braves boy. Atlanta.”

“Yes, New has mentioned some problems with Atlanta. He's come home a couple of times looking like he got into a fight. We'll ask him what's wrong and he'll mutter something about Braves taking his lunch money but then he clams up.”

“I see. His record does show a history of bad experiences with Atlanta. I wish I had known sooner because it's a problem New is going to have deal with sooner than later.”

“We know. We've tried. We just can't seem to get him to focus.”

“You as his parents and I as his teacher will have to devote our energy to that as soon as the second half of the year starts. Atlanta presents a test that New must pass if he wants to progress even further.”

“Excuse me, but there was another test he seemed to do pretty well in.”

“Which one.”

“It involved that other kid with the same first name as him.”

“Same first name…oh, you must be talking about New York Yankees. What about him?”

“Well, New came home very excited a couple of weeks ago telling us how he really aced a test with them.”

“I see it here in his file. I have to admit it was impressive, but there are couple of things I need to caution you about where that Yankees boy is concerned.”

“Please, tell us.”

“For one thing, Yankees is not a member of his group. You folks, the Mets, shouldn't be concerned about the Yankees kid right now. He's only going to provide a distraction for New. Furthermore, while your son did do well in that test, he didn't do all that well.”

“What are you talking about? Are you calling my kid a liar?”

“No, of course not. But despite however excited you and he may have gotten after that test, it seems he only really got half the answers right. See? There were six segments to that examination, and he only prevailed in three of them.”

“That's not good?”

“It's not a question of New being good or bad against Yankees. Really, you could say that about the entire year to this point.”

“What do you mean?”

“Look at his numbers. One day he does very well. One day he doesn't. The next day he succeeds. The next day he doesn't. This inconsistency is the most consistent thing about him.”

“That's not normal for a kid?”

“For a little while, maybe, but eventually you want a student like New to develop a pattern and show some promise. He's doing better than he was last year but you have to want him to do even better in the second half of this year.”

“How can we do that?”

“That's a very good question. I think what we all have to do with a child like New Mets is work on his fundamentals.”

“Doesn't he have those? You're not calling my kid stupid, I hope.”

“I don't think New lacks intelligence or anything of that nature. But there are certain aspects of learning he's having trouble with.”

“Such as?”

“Well, his math skills need improving.”


“He's not very good at keeping track of things. He might think there are three of something when there are only two and that gets him into trouble. He might not understand the value of going from point A to point B as soon as he's allowed. He might need four of something to get to his goal but he won't show the patience to get them.”

“You've lost me.”

“We have this exercise in which we use balls. We tell the children, if you gather four balls, you get a reward.”


“The other kids eventually figure out if they demonstrate patience, it will pay off for them. Four balls equals good. The only way to get four balls is to use your judgment and wait long enough to collect them. It's not always the thing to do but we've found it can be very helpful for most kids.”


“But New, especially at the start of the school day, never seems to remember that.”

“Well, to be fair, that does sound a little complicated.”

“No, actually, it's not. Wait for four balls and get a reward.”

“Look, maybe for a teacher, that's easy to comprehend, but a kid like New isn't going to understand that. In our family, we've never been very good about patience.”


“No. The Mets have never wanted to wait very long. I don't think any of New's relatives would figure that it would be to their advantage to get four…what is it again?”

“Four balls.”

“See? Ya lost me again.”

“It's not just a matter of math skills. It's a matter of perception. Those four balls can help him advance and New doesn't accept that.”

“Maybe we can work with him on that. Are those his biggest problems, the four balls and the test-taking?”

“Another thing I've noticed is New doesn't pay attention for very long.”

“Doesn't pay attention?”

“There are times when it seems he's going to do very well. Let's say he has to solve a series of problems. A three-part series of problems. He'll get through the first one wonderfully.”


“Then he'll get the second one, perhaps with a bit more of a struggle, but he'll get it.”


“But he seems to lose interest when it comes to the third part of any given series. New apparently doesn't think it's necessary to really go after it and succeed. It's like he's satisfied with just taking two out of three.”

“You know the saying: Two out of three ain't bad.”

“Yes, I'm familiar with it. But at this school, we want the kids to aim higher than that.”

“I'm sure you do. But if New got two out of three in every series the way you describe, wouldn't that be a very good mark?”

“The point, Mr. and Mrs. Mets, is at the rate he's going, that's going to be impossible.”


“Really. While New has an above-average attitude and I personally think he's been a lot of fun to watch throughout the first half of the year and that he shows great spurts of enthusiasm and maybe even the potential for brilliance, his overall performance is not likely to reflect a great deal of growth by the time the second half is done.”

“Oh my. That sounds serious. What should we do?”

“You need to help me in getting New to focus. Concentrate. Don't let him make silly errors in his school work. Tell him he can't just forget how many there are of something. Tell him he needs to be patient. That he needs to stay with a tough series of problems until he gets all of them. And to face his tests — even the ones with the Braves kid who's been taunting him for so long — with a greater level of resolve.”

“I guess that's not such bad advice coming from a teacher.”

“I'm glad you think so. We all only want what's best for New.”

“Listen, we paid a lot of money to get him into this school so we'll make damn sure he does what he's supposed to do.”

“And please, Mr. and Mrs. Mets, watch the rough language around him.”

“My apologies. That kid can bring out the worst in us sometimes.”

1 comment to Parent-Teacher Conference

  • Anonymous

    Great read! A certain nominee for Entry of the Year! If the clubs 2nd half can be as good, we'll all have alot to smile about.