After the Christmas Party

By Linda

Rating: G

Genres: family humour

Keywords:

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Disclaimer: No filthy lucre changed hands.

Summary: Mrs. Malvin's class at Worley Elementary School in Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland is putting on a Christmas play. It is 15 years after the episode "Breaking The Ice" in which her class sent drawings and letters to Enterprise. It is also four years after my story "Vulcans Don't Take Baths". T'Lizzie is now ten years old and has a four year old brother.


 

The babble in the classroom was undecipherable and the movement of twenty-five children was pure chaos.

"Children!" Mrs. Malvin shouted above the din in her authoritative teacher's voice. "I know you are all excited. Our Christmas play was a great success! But please, we need to clean up now so you can join your families in the gym for the party. Mary and Lilly, you are in charge of putting the caps back on the makeup jars and taking a wet cloth to clean up spilled powder. Terry, please take another cloth and wipe the makeup off everyone's face, oh, and pull all the elf ears off and put them in a box. Rory and Ellen, pick up the costumes and stuff them in the laundry basket by the door. I will be collecting your scripts. If I don't get to you before you are ready to leave, just put your script on my desk. And if you are going home instead of to the party, Merry Christmas to you! See you next year!

Mrs. Malvin sighed and sat down for a second before she started to collect the scripts. She had five sets of scripts that she alternated for the yearly holiday play which she had supervised for the twenty-three years she had been a teacher at Worley Elementary School. Although the children in her class now represented several religious traditions, the Christian group still was the largest. So far, there were no complaints about favoritism among religions and she did make an effort to recognize each religion, the class celebrating a major holiday associated with each. The children participated in all of these with enthusiasm.

"Hey you knocked that right out of my hand!" complained Lilly as she bent down to pick up a jar of powder after Rory backed into her.

"Sorry!" he laughed and skipped over to the basket by the door with a heap of costumes.

Terry grinned and smiled at Lilly, "just sweep it up, Sis; I'll help when I'm through pulling off ears."

"Ouch! That hurts!"

"Oh, sorry, T'Lizzie, laughed Terry, stroking her ear in apology. "Your ear is so warm, I must have hurt it. I am really, really sorry."

T'Lizzie , half out of her elf costume, backed away from him. "Just be more careful, will you? My skin is warmer to you because your skin is cooler to me." She was rubbing her ear herself. "Um, I am undamaged." The residual effect of his touching her was now more distasteful than the sharp pull on her ear had been.

"Okay, I will," he grinned sheepishly, turning to another child and gently working at another elf ear.

"Your Mum and Dad here?" Mary asked as T'Lizzie was pulling down her elf trousers.

"Yes. Dad just got in this afternoon. My mother has been here since Tuesday. My Aunt Jenny's house is overflowing with relatives staying here for the holidays."

"Our house too! Though my relatives don't come from so far away. Why aren't you living on a space ship or space station with your parents? That is where they met isn't it? I read all about your family. You are famous."

"I do not like being famous. My parents' jobs keep them moving around a lot. My brother is too young to be effected by this yet. I told them I dislike losing friends that it takes me so long to make, then have all the bother of making new ones again. So they left me with my aunt for a whole year, though I know they had mixed feelings about it. Me too. But I like being in this school. My parents want me to experience all the cultures the people in my family represent. I'll be here for the rest of the year, and then we are all moving back to Vulcan again. Dad will be in a research facility there, and Mom will be coordinating a Human-Vulcan science student exchange program."

"Wow, that is more than you have told me about yourself in all the months since you came here. I guess that means we are really now friends? I am honored," Mary said displaying a huge grin. "I wish my family could move around like that. What an exciting life."

"Well, it has its down side. I do not like to have to pack and move all the time. They discussed it and I think we will be staying on Vulcan for a long time after this school year if they can arrange it."

"Oh," frowned Mary, "I will certainly miss you when you leave. Say, will you send me photos from Vulcan?"

"I will. And you let me know what is going on here. But moving is months away, not until the end of the next term. We better hurry; the party has been going on for 10.5 minutes already. Here, Mrs. Malvin, my script."

"Thank you, T'Lizzie."

Mrs. Malvin added the script to the pile balanced on her left arm. She moved on to the next child, her thoughts still on her one Vulcan student. The girl was polite to fault in class, but oh so serious and hard to draw out at times. She was way ahead in math so that her teachers had to tap into Vulcan sources to give her challenging math homework. And except for Mary, a very bright and studious child herself, T'Lizzie did not make friends easily. Most of the other children thought her snobbish and standoffish. She did seem to think most of their games and discussions childish, crossing her arms over her chest and rolling her eyes much of the time during recess.

Depositing the scripts on her desk, Mrs. Malvin turned to see survey the classroom. Half the kids had gone to the gym and most of the cleanup had been done.

"Alright, the rest of you may leave for the party now. I will finish the cleanup."

"Yeah!"

"Alright!"

"Race ya to the gym!"

"No, walk," said Mrs. Malvin, looking pointedly at each remaining child in turn.

They made a show of exaggerated walking as they filed out the door, but she heard the patter of running feet once they were out of her sight. She sighed, and went around the room picking up things here and there. She wanted very much to talk to T'Lizzie's parents as they had not been able to make the parent-teacher conferences. Vmails did not have the same immediate conversational flow; they subtly inhibited full information exchange . She thought back to the first contact she had with them. That was before they had even been a celebrity interspecies couple.

Years ago, she had sent a packet of her class's drawings and letters to Enterprise. The vid the Enterprise crew sent back was delightful. She had chuckled on seeing Captain, then Commander, Tucker's noticeable embarrassment on having to answer that question on toilets in space. When she had learned there was a Vulcan crewman on board, she also worried about some of those green-faced drawings. None of her class at that time had ever seen a Vulcan up close, though Vulcans were certainly all over the news vids - especially that stern faced ambassador. And now, she had a Vulcan child right in her fourth grade class - the child of Captain Tucker no less!

Well, the classroom was back in order - as much as she cared to deal with it right now. Mrs. Malvin was hungry and wanted to get a bit to eat before everything was gobbled up at the party. She took one last look around, turned off the lights and shut the classroom door.


T'Pol grabbed four year-old Satik's hand to keep him from taking more candy from the food table. She turned again to Mrs. Malvin and said "T'Lizzie is growing fast. Her school uniform is getting a little short for her. But she seems to like school here more than the Vulcan Community School in the Sausalito compound."

"Yeah," Trip jumped into the conversation after examining his daughter's pulled ear. "And if you are still sending drawings of Vulcans to Starfleet ships, they are probably more accurate now that you have a resident model to copy."

Mrs. Malvin reddened. "We have come a long way in knowledge of our neighbors in the universe. Especially in knowledge about the Federation's founding worlds. I have not yet had any Andorians or Teleriates in my class, but we had a group of Denobulian educators visit our school last year. And say, Captain Tucker," Mrs. Malvin gave him a smile with a glint in her eye. "Any updates on starship recycling systems to regale us with? I am sure my current class could come up with questions as interesting as the one Molly McCook asked fifteen years ago."

Trip shifted from one foot to the other, trying not to grin sheepishly. "Yes, there have been improvements over the last fifteen years. Well, I might, that is, I am sure I could, arrange a Starfleet sanitation expert to telecommute to your class with much better info than I could give. My area is warp engine development. Wouldn't that be of more interest to your class?"

"You never know with children, what will catch their interest," grinned Mrs. Malvin. "Your nephew was a bright lad, but Molly McCook had an amazing grasp of science and technology for a girl her age. I believe she now is doing graduate studies in bioengineering."

"Say, you should get HER to speak to your class on waste recycling now," Trip suggested.

"Good suggestion," Agreed Mrs. Malvin.

T'Pol was kneeling in front of Satik and reaching into his pockets to remove several pieces of candy. She stood and handed the stash to Trip for disposal before addressing Mrs. Malvin. "T'Lizzie seems well adjusted to living with Trip's Aunt Jenny here in Ireland for a year. I would like to speak with you about her progress in school. Is she doing better in language arts?"

As T'Pol's attention was diverted, Satik slipped his hand out of his mother's hand. He leaned his head against her leg, so she let him be.

"Mrs. Tucker, she has been improving. The local accent has not impaired her understanding, but she has not been speaking English for very long, has she?"

"Correct. Since birth up until she was six years old, she spoke only Vulcan. When we moved to Earth, she then attended the Vulcan school for diplomat children which also used the Vulcan language with an optional class in English - a half hour per day. She had to speak English when we visited Trip's parent's home, but since we were there most of the time with her, we translated when necessary. She only spent a few days at any one time, alone with her grandparents. One of those times was during the birth of her brother, and other times were only for a few days while her father and I went to a conference or needed some time by ourselves."

"So even on Earth, she mostly spoke Vulcan for the past few years?"

"Well, yes," said Trip. "We thought we would ease her into the language because she had so many other alien things to get used to. Like red traffic lights meaning stop instead of go. After four years in the Vulcan school, we decided she was overdue for a bit of English language immersion and your school seemed just the ticket."

"I am honored you chose us. Irish schools do have a good reputation. I do wish she had more than one year with us, though one year certainly will improve her English language skills. She is even beginning to catch on in her Gaelic class. She is talented in science and math. But while languages do not seem to be her strong point, she is progressing well."

Trip glanced around. "T'Pol, I thought you were holding Satik's hand."

"I was, for a while. Then he let go but was content to lean against me. He seems to have slipped away again."

"I'll go round him up. Maybe he's with T'Lizzie. I saw her come in and head for the food table. I'll bet he saw her and went over there. Say, that ham was great."

"A local pig farmer provided it," explained Mrs. Malvin. "He smokes them on his farm and gifts the school with one each year for our Christmas play and party."

Trip navigated around small groups of people standing around talking and eating. The festive food table, dressed in a red and green paper skirt, was still loaded with home baked cakes and cookies, yet something seemed missing. There was the bread for making sandwiches...but the platter of ham was gone. Maybe someone took it into the school kitchen, which was right off the gym, to cut up more sandwich-size slices. Trip shrugged. He would like another sandwich but first he must collar his son and daughter to make sure they were okay and not getting into trouble. He had found that Vulcan kids were just as naughty as Human kids if given the chance.

After a circuit of the entire gym, Trip was starting to get annoyed and a little worried. Many children were standing quietly with their parents or talking in an animated way about their parts in the play. One girl still held her flute cradled in her arm as if it were her most prized possession. She had played a solo so sweetly; she must have had years of lessons to her credit. And that boy with freckles all over like chicken pox, he was bound to grow up to be a championship fiddler, in Trip's estimation. Neither of his own kids were musical, but then no one in his or T'Pol's family were either...except for his mom...and dear Lizzie. Well, best not to dwell on that right now. Where were the kids?

He stepped into the hallway. Ah, there was T'Lizzie, sitting along the wall with a group of friends, paper plates on the floor in front of them, scarfing down cookies.

"Hey, Pumpkin, how about spending some time with me and your mom?"

"Oh, hi, Dad. Um, this is Mary, and Liam, and Terry. My friends. They were all in the play, did you see them?"

"Hello, Mary, and Liam, and Terry. Yes I saw you, but I don't know who was who since you all were in costume. Say, have you seen your brother?"

"Yeah, he was getting food. Again. But Rory's dog had gotten in and Satik was trying to drag him to the back door of the gym because someone said pets were not allowed in the school. That's the last I saw of him because Mary was telling me we would have more room to eat out here." T'Lizzie frowned. "Was I supposed to be watching him? Mom did not tell me to."

"No, stay with your friends until you finish eating. Come back and join your mom and me in about 15 minutes, okay?"

"Sure, Dad."

"See you all later. Great play, guys!"

Trip hurried back inside the gym. A few families had left already, so it was easier to check around. Still no sign of Satik.

"Hey where's the ham?" One mother asked, moving along the food table, restocking her plate.

"I didn't even get one sandwich yet," whined a girl following close behind the woman who then replied, "That is because you ate all the deserts first."

"Me neither! I didn't get any ham!" complained a rather stout boy.

"Oh yes you did! You already had two sandwiches," the whiny girl had turned to admonish the boy.

Trip was now very worried. Then he saw the paper table skirt move. A dog's tail swept out beneath it, wagging back and forth. Trip strode over and lifted the skirt. People near the table stopped talking and stared. Underneath the table sat a medium-sized dog and Satik. The dog was happily lapping up the last bits of ham off a silver platter.

"Satik! What the heck are you doing under there?" asked a very surprised and embarrassed Trip.

"Hi, Dad!" Satik crawled out and stood with a self-satisfied expression in front of his puzzled father.

"Well?" asked Trip.

"Okay. So they were kicking the dog out. But he was hungry. He said he had not eaten all day."

"Now, Son, dogs don't talk. You gave him the whole platter of meat? Son, that was people food, not dog food."

By this time, T'Pol had approached and brushed against Trip's left arm. A wider group of parents had quit their individual conversations and now were standing around looking down at the Vulcan boy and the dog with its tongue hanging out, a happy doggie smile on its face, pushing the boy's hand with his nose.

Satik's expression got defensive as he noticed all the people staring at him. He put one arm over the dog's neck and the other around his father's leg, for moral support.

"Dogs DO talk! Sort of. He was trying to say something with his eyes. I was not sure what. So I, you know, reached my hand up to his face and spread my fingers along his cheek bone. I understood his thoughts. He wanted that meat so badly."

"You mind-melded with a dog?"

Satik's face fell at his father's raised voice. He buried his head into the side of Trip's trouser leg.

There were raised eyebrows and smothered laughs among the adults. By this time in Terran-Vulcan relations, the mysterious Vulcan practice of mind-melding was not entirely unheard of. In fact, it had the reputation of a well known SECRET like some Masonic gestures and other fraternal order rituals. T'Pol went into blank Vulcan mode, though inside she was mortified that her son would do such a thing.

There was a moment of complete silence broken only when T'Pol bent down and picked Satik off his father's leg and then had to pry his little hand off the dog's collar. She looked briefly at the astonished faces standing in a semi-circle around them and said "Our deepest apologies. Of course we will reimburse the school for the piece of meat."

She then nodded formally and turned, giving her mate an eye message that needed no interpretation, and exited the gym with as much dignity as she could muster while carrying a naughty little boy. She was trailed by a happy dog jauntily trotting at her heels.

Trip followed in T'Pol's wake, beckoning to T'Lizzie who followed immediately when she noticed her parents' expressions. Like most parents who feel they will never live down public embarrassment at the hands of their children, it took an hour after the children were in bed for them to start discussing the incident. Their discussion lasted well into the night.

No doubt this incident would be the talk of the school and the town, for years to come - an incident that would mortify any proud and proper Vulcan. But the next day, Trip and T'Pol were assured by Irish relatives and friends that in this pet loving community Satik had endeared himself to everyone. Despite some people missing their second or third ham sandwich, the fact that a Vulcan child could be naughty in the same way as a Human child, with the intention of making a pet happy, meant all was forgiven - especially during this holiday season of joy and good will.


Comments:

Linda

That is a very astute observation, Dailee!  Yes, I see and agree with your point that that Human culture as gotten the short end of the stick in Vulcan/Human relations.  And on rethinking, I would think that Trip would indeed have tried to speak his native language with his children!  I suppose that my experience with "dominant" languages has colored my writing here.  When my daughter was six years old, her father who is a native speaker of Ojibwe, said to me when I urged him to teach her Ojibwe "she is too far gone with English".  He did not want to teach her something she probably would not use, in his opinion.  So my daughter and I went to Ojibwe language classes after she was an adult - far to late to become native speakers.   And I have seen children reject parental attempts to teach them different languages because these langauges are "from the old country" and irrelavent to their lives.  It is very sad, because sometimes in adulthood they may regret lost childhood opportunities.

dialee

linda,

Please accept my apologies if I have offended in any way in this discussion.  All children grow and developed at their own pace and strengths.

Back to the story,  in your own description of T'Lizzie's English language capability, "Since birth up until she was six years old, she spoke only Vulcan. When we moved to Earth, she then attended the Vulcan school for diplomat children which also used the Vulcan language with an optional class in English - a half hour per day."  This sentence implied to me the reader that Trip would not have spoken and used English/American to his daughter regularly for six years. Children mimic what they see and hear. If so, it seems the human experience got the short end of the stick in the Vulcan-Human intercultural experience and it is not only in this story but in the majority of stories in this genre.

Linda

Oh, you included Satik in my not giving enough language ability credit.  But I didn't say that Satik had any difficulty with English, just T'Lizzie.  It could be that most children do have this ability to learn languages easily.  But that has not been my experience.  So I still think that I was not short in the credit giving department, at least from my life experience. 

Linda

Dialee, you signed your last post with my name, LOL.  I guess we all go with our own experience.  My family experience in languages is differenm than yours, as I already explained it.  If I did not give T'Lizzie and Satik enough credit for language learning ability by your standards, that is because it seems your family is much better at learning languages than mine is.  Please give me credit for my OWN experience, which is the fund of knowledge that I am writing from.  I still stand with the lack of language ability (or lack thereof) that I put in my story.  I call it as I understand it.  Even very young children CAN have trouble with languages.  In fact, my three year old granddaugter has to go to a speech theripist.

linda

That really is a different experience of multi-languages in a household re: your daughter and grandchildren.  I also grew up in a multi-language home and now my nephew is also growing up in a multi-langulage home.  Every adult speaks to him in the language he/she is most comfortable using.  The result is that he speaks all the languages he's being exposed to since babyhood fluently, native and no accents.  He sometimes has 3 languages in the same sentences.  That's how comfortable he is with them although he still distinguishes the cultures.

I guess that's why I thought Trip would naturally speak southern American to his children despite being on Vulcan.  I guess that was my point on the new research, the human brain, particularly infant brain, is supremely adaptable.  I don't think you give T'Lizzie and Satik enough credit for their language adaptability.:)

Silverbullet

Linda, I humbly stand corrected. Still like the story very much and hope to read more of your fics in future.

SB

Linda

SB, you don't need training to mind meld.  As I said, somewhere in canon it was stated that mind melding was the heritage of everry Vulcan.  I see it as instinctive.  A Vulcan baby will reach for the facial melding points instinctively.  I have put that in other stories of mine - it is part of my version of the Star Trek universe and is based on canon, but extrapolated as I see it.  So in my stories a Vulcan child can mind meld, and that is that.  As far as T'Pol not melding with Hoshi, it can be dangerous without training but not impossible.  T'Pol would not do it because at that time she did not know that it was every Vulcan's heritage.  And even if she did know she could do it, without training or forced, as we saw with Tolaris, it can be dangerous.  But it CAN be done without training and yes, a child or a baby can do it!

Dialee, yes I could have developed the language difficulties of T'Lizzie more.  Probably I was making some assumptions that did not get into the story.  Some children learn languages more easily than others and I was thinking that T'Lizzie did not learn languages easily.  And you really have to be immersed in a language, even as a child, to learn it like a native.  My daughter from first grade to fourth grade was in a Spanish immersion school where they did not speak English at all.  She was doing okay, but not great.  We did not speak Spanish at home.  So now she really can't speak Spanish though I suspect if she took a course in it now, it would start to come back to her.  My grandchildren get an hour a day of Ojibwe at Indian Community School and we speak the language a little at home.  But that is not enough to make the grandkids native speakers, since none of us are native speakers at home.  So I had T'LIzzie from age six to ten in a mostly Vulcan language environment, even on Earth.  In the Irish elementary school, she was with native English speakers at school and at home with her aunt.  I am assuming that when she was with Trip and T'Pol, they mostly spoke Vulcan, since until she was six, they were living on Vulcan.  Anyway, language learning is a fascinating subject!     

dialee

I enjoyed the story very much, very much appropriate to the season.

I think the discussion on T'Lizzie learning English could be clearer.  Also, for future information regarding the developmental stages of a human baby, please see Charlie Rose's brain series.  I think it is the first or second episode.  There is a fascinating discussion of how the baby's brain learns to communicate, differientiate, and finally choose and discard sounds to learn a language.  The discussion also concluded that to learn a new language and being able to speak it like a "native", one must learn it by age 10, the current age of T'Lizzie.

Asso

Children, damnit! Children! :@ Anyway, the substance doesn't change.:D

Asso

Ah! I have no perplexities. I enjoied this one!
And then...,Trip and T'Pol married and with childs. And in love. And likable, too, in their embarrassment. But what the hell could I want more?;)

Silverbullet

Forgot that Spock mind-melded with that Rock and the Whale. Been a while since I viewed TOS and never did see the movie in which Spock melded with the whale.

Spock was, however, an Adult so his mind would be much stronger than a four year old child who would not have the training for mind melds. T'Pol in one episode said she was not able to meld with Hoshi because she did not have the training. Archer walked her through it. But that is neither here not there as far as the story goes. I do like the idea of the boy being under the table letting his doggy friend eat the Ham. also enoyed the Trip and T'Pol as parents and their family life.

SB

 

Linda

SB, I don't understand what you mean by "You did telegraph the ham incident a bit".  If you mean foreshadow it, of course I did.  That is part of the plot.   And hey, if Spock could mind meld with a rock (rock creature) in one of the TOS episodes, why not a dog?  Spock is half-human and he mind melds with the best of them, so why do you think a half human could not?  And if mind melding is the inheritance of every Vulcan, to paraphrase some Enterprise episode - I forgot which - of course children would instinctively have this urge, talent, ability, or whatever you want to call it.  Glad you liked the story even though the foreshadowing and a half-human mind melding didn't work for you.

Distracted, yes this was just supposed to be just a slice out of a-day-in-the-life sort of piece. I dashed this one off in an hour.  Probably should have given it a third read through, but wanted to get it up before the holidays slipped by.  Um, if you could point out the parts you felt did not go anywhere, that would help me watch for them in future stories and attempt to wrap them up.   

justTripn

SB, you've forgotten about Spock's mindmeld with Gracie the whale in Star Trek 4.

Distracted

Very nice concept.  As always, the details are intriguing.  Some of the storyline doesn't go anywhere, making this seem more like a random segment of ordinary life rather than a structured story, but I have a feeling that that's the ambiance you were going for.  I liked it. 

Silverbullet

Linda, Nice story. The pick of the school didn't seem random. Trip's Nephew attened there. The Teacher and the children had sent the drawings and questions to Enterprise 15 years earlier so it makes sense that Trip and T'Pol would send their daughter to that school when they chose to have her attend a normal human school so she could learn English.

You did telegraph the Ham incident a bit. It was funny anyway. didn't think that Vulcans could mind meld with an Animal and certainly not a half human/half Vulcan child. Learn something new every day.

SB

justTripn

Actually I like the idea that Trip and T'Pol, a celebrity couple, would drop their child off at a random "ordinary" school, so they could have some ordinary human experiences. It reminds me of a true story. My neighbor who works each summer at a summer camp in West Virginia and her daughter were at the summer camp. One little girl in the cabin, Isabella, made friends with the little neighbor girl and they had a perfectly wonderful typical summer camp experience, at the end of which, Isabella's dad came to pick her up. Isabella's parents were Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman!  lol . . . no one knew the whole time. They had dropped their kids off at a random summer camp where they could be normal!!!!

justTripn

This just makes me happy. :) Thanks for sharing your Vulcan-Human intercultural experiences with us.

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