Lambs are chick magnets. Miles took a Soay lamb to school Wednesday and was mobbed as he stood on the playground, waiting for school to start. The circle surrounding him was four girls deep in all directions. Cell phone cameras flashing, hands reaching to touch the baby, and mouths chattering at full speed, the girls were enchanted. Miles was thoroughly encompassed, completely the center of attention, and absolutely loving it.
We’re sending a lamb to school with Chick on Wednesday.
Lambs are innocent. Grace is not. In fact, she calls herself evil.
A friend told her that a boy in her social studies class was cheating off her. She told the boy of the accusation and then warned him. “If you cheat off me, I will write down the wrong answers.” She also told her teacher about the situation. Friendly as a wolf in lamb’s clothing Grace invited the boy to study with her. She memorized the answers he knew and the ones that he did not. Later, when they took the test, she put down correct answers for the ones that she knew that he knew and recorded incorrect answers for the ones that she knew he did not know. When she was finished, she got up and sharpened her pencil, leaving her intentionally compromised test in open view. After school, with the teacher’s permission, she re-took the test, this time recording the correct answers for all of the questions. Maybe not evil but certainly cunning……
Zorro is NOT cunning but he is showing signs of intelligent life. There may be hope for our “dumb dog, dumber than they come dog” (Annie the Musical) after all. His radius of confidence has gradually extended to the point where he will go running with me and his degree of obedience has increased to the point that I can take him running without a leash. We run along the walking trail (no dog catchers on the walking trail!); he explores ahead while I run behind. When I see someone approaching with a leashed dog (other people obey the rules), I call Zorro to me, tell him “heel”, and continue running while he trots obediently behind me. When we pass the potential fight mate, I release him with a “break” command and he bounds off. On our last run, three people said, “What a smart dog!” If only they knew……. He still eats socks and underwear though the last time he puked up underwear he did it on the kitchen floor instead of the living room carpet. That is something to be grateful for!
I am also grateful for Sister Biddle, an 80+ year old widow in our neighborhood. And here is why….
During my high school years at Sugar-Salem I started an unhealthy relationship with dances. Dance after dance, year after year, I sat on the bleachers in the school gym and watched others enter and exit the dance floor. Rarely—only about 3-4 times an evening—was I asked to dance. My feeling of self-worth drained away as my confidence evaporated; it was definitely a drought situation. Dad told me that things would be different in college. They weren’t. They did not change after I graduated from college either. The story remained the same; dancing was not something I did at dances, not because I did not want to but because no one wanted to dance with me.
One of the many unforeseen blessings of marrying Lance was that I now had someone who wanted to dance with me. We had been married a couple years when, armed with this knowledge, I suggested to Lance that we attend a Valentine’s dance sponsored by our church. Safe enough, right? Sadly, no. I walked into the dance and all the insecurities, self-doubts, and feelings of inadequacy that plagued me when I was single returned to haunt me. My reaction was not reasonable but it was very real. We turned and exited the building.
Fast forward a decade. I learned during a wedding reception last fall that I had outlived my fears (there are benefits to getting old…) and that I really enjoyed dancing with my husband so I invited him to attend the 2014 Valentine’s dance sponsored by our church. Both of us eagerly anticipated the evening.
In the meantime Tanah was NOT looking forward to Valentine’s evening. No one had given her a Valentine, much less asked her to dance, and she did not relish the thought of spending the evening alone, thinking about all the clueless jerks who left her Valentine-less. Taking her life into her own hands, she organized a party and invited female friends who also found themselves Valentine-less. I thoroughly applauded her proactivity but could not endorse a party for teens, any kind of party, in my home without an adult present. And I could not be present; I would be spending the evening in my husband’s arms, cutting a quick step and conquering fears.
What to do?
“Sister Biddle, do you have plans tonight?........ Would you mind reading at my house?” It has been at least a decade since Sister Biddle was asked to babysit and a decade since Tanah needed a babysitter but on Valentine’s evening both happened. Sister Biddle read in the office, Tanah and teens partied in the basement, and Lance and I danced in the gym. It was all good.
Teaching is all good lately too……….great even.
I did a chemical and physical changes lab where the students rotated through 19 difference stations. At each station they were to follow instructions and then identify the outcome as either a chemical or physical change. In the initial instructions, I told them they could eat at four of the stations, identified the four edible stations, and warned them NOT to eat anything at any of the other stations.
At one of the NOT edible stations, I posted the instructions: “Smash the sugar crystal”. Knowing 8th graders as I do and being someone evil (or was that cunning?), I put a hammer, a thick wooden cutting board, and 200 g of salt crystals at the station. Eighth graders who eat salt expecting sugar make some really funny faces.
Eighth graders cross country skiing for the first time also make some really funny faces. I took all my classes to the North Fork Environmental Center for a day where we snow shoed, investigated an avalanche, surveyed lichen populations, and cross country skied. The students’ comments were as diverse as they are.
- “I learned a plethora of scientific facts.”
- “Gravitey worck varey, vaerey good.”
- “I had fun learning how to ski and how to NOT hit people going down.”
- “Cross country skiing is not as easy as the Olympics make it look.”
- “Ice hurts when it is everywhere.”
- “Gravity never rests.”
- “It was such a great experience. I learned how to ski and what pain really is. Thank you.”
- “Even though you learn a lot you can sometimes fall and you have to get up….literally.”
- “You rock!”
This week I took the train to SLC and back twice to receive training for my summer job, took the train to SLC and back once with 97 eighth graders, took the lamb to school once with one excited 4th grader, took a 7 mile jog with one semi-obedient dog, took eight loads of laundry out of the dryer, and took credit (some of it undeserved) for administrating a largely successful science fair. Now I am tired—too tired to tell about it. Come back next week!