Chapter 9 Summary
The principal of Lincoln Elementary, Mrs. Chatham, comes to visit Nick and his parents at home. The four of them sit down to have a chat.
Nick finds Mrs. Chatham a little scary. She is as big as Nick’s father, who played linebacker in college football, and she sits stiff and unsmiling in Nick’s living room. She explains the whole story about the word "frindle" from her perspective. She talks about the word, the detentions, and the feud between Nick and Mrs. Granger. She says that the kids’ game with their new word shows a lack of respect for authority.
As Mrs. Chatham talks, Nick watches his parents. His dad looks embarrassed but his mom looks annoyed. She is on Nick’s side. She tells Mrs. Chatham that the school is making too much fuss about a silly little word.
Mrs. Chatham says that, in some ways, she agrees. She explains that Mrs. Granger feels it is necessary to uphold the standards of the English language. She compares saying"frindle" to saying "ain’t."
Nick jumps into the conversation. He says he found ain’t in the huge dictionary in Mrs. Granger’s classroom, which Mrs. Granger herself says is kind of like the law. “I don’t see why I can’t use a word if it’s in the dictionary,” Nick says, hoping to distract the adults from the topic.
At first, everyone looks confused, but Nick cannot keep Mrs. Chatham off track for long. She says that respect for authority is the real issue, not words.
Nick’s mom says that Mrs. Granger is overreacting. She asks her husband what he thinks, and he stammers his agreement. Nick is thrilled. To him, this conversation is just part of a big battle of wills between him and Mrs. Granger.
After Mrs. Chatham leaves, Nick’s mom sits him down to talk. She explains that she is on his side if he is just using a silly word but not if he is disrespecting teachers. Nick says he is not trying to do anything wrong. He and his friends are just having fun.
Nick’s dad is not so sure:
If it gets everyone upset and makes the principal come talk to your mother and me, then it must not be fun for everybody, is it?
He thinks Nick should end the whole thing right away.
Nick is not ready to give up his game. He says "frindle" is no longer just his word. People use it because they like to use it, and Nick cannot stop them. He promises again that he will not be mean to his teachers, but he thinks that is all he has power to do. Reluctantly, his dad accepts this.