"My first Sunday evening was a total disaster, it was like herding
cats. No, worse than that. You know that game at the carnival where you have a
little hammer and you hit these popup things and as soon as you hit one …another
pops up and you try to hit it? That’s how these boys were."
be willing to bet that from time to time all of us have volunteered for some job
or another and then had buyers’ remorse set in shortly thereafter. You know what
I mean, you get all fired up about something or another, some good cause or program
and you think to yourself….’that’s neat, I believe I can do that.’
once you see what’s involved you start kicking yourself in the pants for having
opened your mouth and sticking your foot into it. Look in the dictionary under
the word, mullet and you’ll find a picture of me beside the definition.
To illustrate my point, several weeks ago a good well meaning member of our church
asked me if I would lead a class of 3rd grade boys for a couple of hours for five
Sunday nights. The topic was to be missionary activities in Brazil. They would
provide the materials and teaching tools. All I would have to do is to implement
the lesson plan and oversee the class.
Sounded simple to me, I mean how
tough can this be? I’ve raised 3 boys. I’ve taught 1st graders; in my mind I thought
3rd grade boys would be more mature and well behaved than 1st graders. 7 little
boys can’t be all that much trouble, could they?
Was I wrong.
My first Sunday evening was a total disaster, it was like herding cats. No, worse
than that. You know that game at the carnival where you have a little hammer and
you hit these popup things and as soon as you hit one …another pops up and you
try to hit it? That’s how these boys were. I had another grown man helping out.
As soon as each of us would get 2 under control, the other 3 would pop up. We’d
get those 3 under control and the previous 4 would be up and running around like
little wild whirling dervishes. About 15 minutes before the session was over some
they were starting to wind down into a sort of rational behavior mode and then
some other kindly volunteer came into the room and announced…’Snack Time’…then
they refueled on the sugar in the drinks and cookies and were wound up and going
again at full speed. Haven’t these people ever heard of chamomile tea? This was
the longest hour and a half I’ve spent since waiting for my last surgery. I was
a mental and physical wreck. How could this have happened? I cried all the way
There was no way; I was going to go back. I called and tried to get
my doctor to think of some elective surgery I might need, but he said nothing
came to mind at the time. I didn’t need a new nose and nothing on my body was
broken, so he wasn’t much help. I need to look for someone who is more understanding.
Where have all the imaginative physicians gone off to?
Last night, I was
planning on calling in sick or making up some other bizarre excuse such as I might
have to go to Washington or China, I’m not certain which one and so can’t help
out with the class tonight, sorry. Might be gone for the next couple of months,
you know how bad the planes are, might want to find someone else to help teach
My loving wife steps in and shames me with the following facts.
“You were in Korea, you were a tank commander, you’ve been a policeman
and had people shoot at you…you’ve been in business with grownups for over 30
years….and you’re going to let 7 little boys intimidate you?”
but you don’t understand…..these little boys…”
She doesn’t give me a chance
to finish…flashes those eyes at me…and walks out to the car. She grabs my stuff
and announces that she is going to help me get this under control.
is a force to be reckoned with.
I am mentally smirking all the way to
the church…just wait until she sees what I have to go through. We’ll see who has
the last laugh on this one.
Let me tell you what happened. My 7 little
lads came in, took one look at her, sat down, shut up and announced they were
ready to learn. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life.
It was like pouring oil on troubled seas. They came, they listened, they spoke
and they learned.
I was totally in awe of how she had them in her grasp
and control from the first minute to the last. No back talk, no smart remarks,
no running around, and no foolishness. Just 7 little boys sitting down and listening
I came away feeling like we got something done. The day
was gained, not lost. I’m going back next week and do it again. Just goes to show
me that none of us are ever too old to learn.
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From North America - April
20, 2005 column