Tuesday morning I made arrangements for the junior high principal, Mr. Mitchell, to do my formal evaluation Tuesday afternoon. When the bell rang, signally the beginning of that day’s final class, I secured the students’ attention and said, “Mr. Mitchell, MY BOSS—the one who decides whether or not I KEEP MY JOB—is coming to class to day to evaluate me. I asked him to come 4th period because I trust you. If you could help me out on this, I would appreciate it.” A few minutes later Mr. Mitchell walked in and took a seat at the back of the class.
OH MY LANDS!!!! The kids were perfect. PERFECT. The room as hear-a-pin-drop silent while they did their bell work and I took roll. It was so silent, in fact, that it was almost uncomfortable; no one said a word, the only sound was the scratch of pens and pencils on paper. As the class progressed, so did the perfection. During the discussion I asked some synthesis questions, questions that required them to apply concepts rather than simply regurgitate them. They tried so hard! Concentration knotted their facial muscles as neurotransmitters leapt across their synapses. Hearts eager to help me inspired intense mental efforts as they searched their brains for the answers they thought would make me look good.
Dee, a student who never voluntarily answers questions, raised his hand. Cee, a student whose absence positively affects the learning atmosphere in the classroom, was on his better-than-best behavior; he did not shout out, get out of his seat, heckle me, or flirt with the girl next to him, not even once! Jay, a student who rarely picks up her pen, diligently took notes. For 80 minutes, from the time Mr. Mitchell entered the classroom to the moment he stepped out, they put on a perfect performance. The tender spot in my heart was so touched. I love my job!! And, thanks to 4th period, I will probably keep it.
Sean, our darling recent convert who has made our Sabbath worship significantly less reverent, has a soft side. First, let me set the scene….. Sitting still just is not an option for him. He can fold (but usually does not fly) 45 paper airplanes during the meeting and still run out of things to do. He and his brother fought, throwing punches and words, during the prayer last week. He gets up to go to the bathroom or get a drink at least 3 times during the 70 minute meeting. He stretches out full length on the bench or lies under the pew on the floor. He does not seem to have an “inside voice”; all comments and questions (of which there are a lot) are made in his basketball gymnasium voice. Sean is constantly in motion and his movements are not quiet.
Last week he leaned against me while the Sacrament [emblems of bread and water taken in remembrance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and in renewal of the covenants we have made with Him] was being passed. Absentmindedly, I began rubbing his arm. It was as if I hit a pause button. All activity stopped. He melted against me and did not move a muscle. At the conclusion of the Sacrament portion of the service (10 minutes or so) I stopped. He whispered [WHISPHERED!!!] “Will you keep rubbing my arm?” For the next 45 minutes I gently massaged his left arm, from shoulder to wrist. For the next 45 minutes he was still, almost as if he were paralyzed; no words, no movement, nothing. There is truly a tender spot in his heart…..and it seems to be connected to his left arm.
Micheal Drago, 19 year old son of Michelle and Joe Drago (our neighbors and cherished friends) enlisted in the Marines. His report to duty date was today. Last Sunday Joe pulled me aside and asked that I be available for Michelle today; “She is going to be a wreck and I am not the comforting type,” he said. Of course, I responded affirmatively and asked him for suggestions as to how I could “be there” for Michelle. “That’s just it,” he said. “I have NO suggestions—I am NOT good at this kind of thing—which is why I am asking you.” [What a great husband, eh?]
Monday morning Joe called me from an airport in AZ where he was awaiting the plane that would take him to Mexico where he would stay until Thursday. “Michael just received orders to report for duty at 5 p.m. today. Would you fast forward the request I made to you about next Sunday to today?” Of course.
Poor Michelle! Husband in Mexico, oldest son leaving in less than 8 hours to spend the next three months in the Marine equivalent of Boot Camp, son NOT home for Christmas and, due to military regulations, NOT able to take or receive any Christmas gifts, facing the prospect of the first Christmas with a child gone……EEK!
Michelle, being Michelle, handled it with class. When I stopped by about 4:30, an air of calm permeated their home. All was good. In fact, it was great. Michelle and the boys were gathered around…..a Chihuahua puppy. It is smaller than a loaf of zucchini bread but much, much more cuddly. Already Michelle was hugging on it, holding it tight to her shoulder, caressing its back. Michael, recognizing that the evening especially, the week particularly, and the entire month in general would be difficult for his mother, gave Michelle a puppy for Christmas. [Oh…..Ah…..!]
A few minutes later, I left Michelle to share what we thought would be her final moments with all her boys together until March 2014. At 5:20 p.m. I got a call from Michelle. A week or so ago Michael had an infected in-grown toe nail treated. The recruiting officer told him that, because the wound was not completely healed, he could not go. He would be shipped out for duty in January instead. [This is where the funny bone is supposed to be tickled…..]
More funny bone ticklers…..
Zorro has opened a new chapter in the “I Am a Stupid Dog” saga. A clean glass (CLEAN—no residual food particles or odors on it) fell from the counter and shattered on the floor. Zorro raced to the accident scene and began licking the broken glass. Oh my.
Tanah earned a Math Excellence Award in Math II….which really is funny. Tanah hates math and her hate is a very vocal and violent one. Math changes our good natured, pleasant daughter into a dreadful demon. When doing math, she screams, she yells, and she throws things. For her safety’s sake, Lance and I no longer help her with her math homework; we are afraid we might do something drastic to her. Chick, bless his heart, braves the storm. Lance and I listened one night as she raved and he responded. She started with simple “I hate math” comments, escalated to “That is NOT the way to do it” assertions, and crescendoed with violent, top-of-her-lungs shouts that Chick had no idea what he was talking about. He took her abuse for a lot longer than Lance or I would have and then told her he was leaving. Her tune changed and she begged him to stay. Once she actually listened to him, she discovered that he did know what he was talking about and, even more amazingly, he could help her understand the concept as well. Chick is very proud of himself for Tanah’s award, which he should be.
While I was leading a discussion, my students passed me a note. I set it aside. “No,” they said, “Read it now.” The note read “Your zipper is down.” It is funnier now than it was then.
Lance and I watched Grace play a basketball game against OPA. (Not the funny part yet) She was fouled while shooting and made her first free throw but it did not count because her toe crossed the line. (Still not the funny part). She took her second shot, missed, got her own rebound, put the ball back up, and scored her first basket of the season. YEA! (Still not the funny part)
While at the game, Franny (a former student who delighted in scaring me and successfully did so on a regular basis) snuck up behind me, put his face next to my ear, and said my name. When I turned my head and saw a close up of his nose, I screamed. (Still not the funny part) About five minutes later, Lance, who Franny does not know from Adam, snuck up behind Franny, grabbed his sides, and bellowed. Franny leapt, screeched, and turned red. (This IS the funny part!)
May this week bring you stories that touch the tender spot in your heart and tickle the funny bone in your arm!