Listening and Learning

I’d 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.’

Then 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 home.

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 this class.

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’ ”

“Yes, honey, 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.

She 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 and learning.

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.