“That’s awesome,” I said, genuinely pleased with him but puzzled about the reason for his disclosure.
He waited expectantly.
“That’s really great,” I said, repeating myself because he was clearly expectant.
“Uh, Mrs. Hislop…..” he said, “..,.the jam.”
Jam? What jam? Paper jam? Log jam? Music jam? My mind raced…..
“Jam?” my tongue stammered.
“Yah, the jam. Remember?”
At last I remembered. In October of last year I did a rock cycle demonstration using bread, peanut butter, and homemade, blackberry freezer jam. Brady begged for some of the jam. If I gave him jam I would have to open the lid to every 8th grader in the school so I refused. Undeterred, he offered to buy it from me. Again I refused. Selling jam to students seemed almost as bad an idea as selling them drugs; it just wasn’t wise.
“What would I have to do to get some jam?” he pled.
Hum…..I considered the source. Brady could have been a poster child for ADHD. He rarely stayed in his seat, he rarely did his classwork, and he rarely stopped pestering his tablemates. At the time his grades were dismal and the likelihood of that every changing was very remote.
“You earn an A in my class and I will give you a jar of jam,” I promised him. Confident that it would never happen, I promptly forgot my promise. He did not.
And now, four months later, he came to claim his jam.
“I’ll bring it next class,” I promised. And this time, I did not forget my promise.
Jam can be very motivating. So can spit….
Miles attended the Klondike Derby at Fort Buenaventura last weekend. The Klondike Derby is supposed to be a winter camp-out but 70 degree day time temperatures made the “winter” adjective a seasonal rather than a weather one.
As part of their activities Justin gave the boys a Jolly Rancher and instructions to keep it in their mouths without swallowing and without spitting; the saliva was to accumulate. It was a contest and the last man to swallow would win a dollar. The scheme was brilliant on multiple levels, not the least of which was that the boys were relatively quiet for a long time. Spit, money, candy, boys….Perfect.
The field narrowed to just four boys. The four boys drained their mouths into cups, the swirling saliva was measured, and Justin gave the boy with the most spit $1, telling him that was the beginning of what would become a million dollars for him.
Not surprisingly, Miles remembered every detail of the spit contest. (It is memorable; even writing about it my churns my stomack. Eew.) Surprisingly, to me, is that Miles also vividly remembers the lesson associated with the activity.
The spit represented physical desires. The boy’s bodies wanted to swallow the spit. The determination not to swallow represented their spirits. To the extent that they were able to keep from swallowing, their spirits were stronger than their bodies. Having spirits that are stronger than their bodies—spirits that would make them get out of bed when their bodies wanted to sleep, make them work hard when their bodies wanted to quit, make them turn away unhealthy food and beverages that their bodies craved—will make them very successful people.
Brilliant. I am SO grateful for the youth leaders who teach and love my children.
I am also SO grateful for my children.
Tuesday evening they found me in the dark, in fetal position on the couch, tears running down my face as I held my breath against the sobs that were racking my body. [I had a brief meltdown—happens to the best of us, right?] It was not a pretty sight but their response was beautiful.
Tanah took Miles into the kitchen and helped him make the cookies he had promised to produce for the Primary service project. Then she stayed up late, washed every dirty dish in the room (there were LOTS), cleaned off all the counters, and swept the floor. She also left a tender note for me on the computer screen that caused me to cry again the next morning when I found it. (It was a very different sort of cry, though.)
Miss Grace wrote me note and, fearing I would not see it in the dark when I awoke, left a flashlight shining on it all night. In the note she apologized for wasting batteries and told me she loved and appreciated me. Darling! Also, she has some hand shaped Post-It notes and she folded two of them to show the signal for “I love you” in sign language. Double darling!!
I am also SO grateful for the people who teach and love me.
Sunday, during a before-Church leadership meeting, the turquoise body popped out of the owl necklace I was wearing. Left was a dangling, empty owl frame. It was not a big deal….but it was a big deal. The owl necklace was the centerpiece of my outfit. (The ladies reading will understand.) I was wearing a black skirt and jacket and a white shirt. The turquoise owl was the color accent that made the outfit; without it I looked drab, dreary, and matronly.
I had to speak in Sacrament meeting, I had several other appointments before Sacrament meeting started, I had no time and no way to go home and back (I’d gotten a ride to the first meeting because The Zippy Car is in the repair shop), and I had no way to fix it at the church. It appeared I was destined to speak to the congregation looking every bit the 50 years old that I am. Bummer.
Enter Randee. She is so, SO good. Quietly and intuitively she said, “Would you like me to take your necklace home and fix it and bring it back?” She acted like it was no big deal. I accepted like it was.
“Oh yes, please.”
And she did. As I sat on the stand, waiting for the meeting to start, she came to the front and handed me the repaired trinket. It was not a big thing…but it was a very big thing. So big, in fact, that the thought of it lodged in my throat and had me fighting tears even before the meeting began, tears caused by the love I felt for Randee and , through her, from God.
To me, God’s tender mercies testify of the reality of His identity as my Heavenly Father more than do His huge miracles. Through small and simple tender acts of awareness and kindness, He shows me that He is truly aware of me and that He sincerely cares. A broken, and then fixed necklace…..an almost missed cell phone call………these are true manifestations of His love for me.
Just before Sunday’s church meeting started I was hunting for something in my scripture bag. I had been busy with leadership meetings for the hour before and was headed for the stand where I would be completely occupied with the worship meeting at hand. In the brief 30 second interval that I had between obligations, as I was rummaging in the bag, I noticed that my phone was glowing. I had forgotten the phone was there, the ringer was off, and, if the call had come through 30 second earlier or 30 second later, I would have never known that someone was trying to contact me.
It was my dear Mr. Miles. “Mom,” he sobbed, “I want to come to Church. I told Dad I was too sick to come to Church but I am feeling better now and I really want to come to Church.” His voice was distraught, his tone heartbreaking. “I am so sorry Mom,” he said, “I am so sorry.”
Sorry? Oh my sweet boy! Don’t be sorry! I was so, SO glad—so glad that he wanted to come to Church, so glad that Heavenly Father had me in my scripture bag at that exact moment so I could take the call and send Lance to retrieve him, and so glad that he could spend the next three hours with us worshipping instead of at home alone mourning.
Small and simple things are HUGE.