Mr. Tushman leads Mom and August into his office. August looks at the interesting items on Mr. Tushman's desk and the framed student artwork on the walls. He then asks why Mr. Tushman has his own office when Mrs. G doesn't. Mr. Tushman amends his explanation of Mrs. G's duties and says that she's his assistant; he's the real director. Mr. Tushman makes a joke about his name, which makes August laugh, and August asks Mr. Tushman about a picture of a pumpkin on his wall. Mr. Tushman explains that it's a portrait of him, and August breaks out into laughter again.
Mr. Tushman clearly knows that his name can incite giggles from students. By engaging in this self-deprecating humor, Mr. Tushman sets an example encouraging students to not take themselves so seriously. This also shows Mr. Tushman's students that in some ways, he's one of them and not just a stodgy adult. Through these small moments of lighthearted humor, Mr. Tushman also humanizes adults as a whole.
August stops short when he hears kids' voices outside the office. He tells the reader that he never minded meeting kids when he was little, because little kids don't try to hurt people's feelings. Big kids, however, know what they're saying. This is why August grew his hair long—so he wouldn't have to look at mean kids. Mrs. G pokes her head in and explains that "they" are here, and Mr. Tushman explains that he's brought in a few kids from homeroom to show him around. August refuses to meet them, so both Mr. Tushman and Mom assure August it'll be okay.
August's decision to grow out his hair to cover his face and shield him from having to look at others illustrates one way that August has control over his outward identity. His fear makes it clear that he knows he's a bullying target, and his descriptions of meeting big kids versus little kids suggests that he believes that little kids are naturally kinder. This reveals that with age comes more of a choice as to how to act.
With that, Mr. Tushman shows two boys and a girl into his office. They don't look at August or Mom. Mr. Tushman introduces them as Jack Will, Julian, and Charlotte. Jack Will and Julian shake August's hand, but Charlotte only waves. They all look down afterwards. Mr. Tushman suggests that they show August around the school. August won't answer when Mr. Tushman asks if that's okay, but when August notices Mom's scared expression and her high-pitched voice, he nods and follows his classmates.
Notice that Jack Will and Julian are, at this point, willing to shake August's hand. Later, this becomes an issue for Julian, so this event shows that these boys are more willing to behave kindly under close adult supervision. This reinforces that adults have a huge amount of power to dictate and shape children’s behavior.