This is another story about my Reading Club group at the elementary school. In December, we got a new member “Beth” (who seems quite healthy and I hate to call her Beth, but I’m at the last of Little Women names). She doesn’t need Reading Club, at all. Jo wanted her with us because they’re friends. She’s a great reader, which has had a completely unexpected result. The other girls were reluctant to read each session, and took their time, struggling with words and comprehension. The first time Beth read, she clipped through a couple of paragraphs, easily, and as she began the third paragraph, Meg jumped in and said, “I’m next.” Then Jo (my most reluctant participant) wanted to read. And now, they are always to eager to read aloud, they try very hard, and are ready to ask about new words and try to understand them, and are following the story really well.
I’ve never even tried these. They *smell* too hot for me.
And they all do have my number. Mrs. Lintz brings treats. I take Takis (TAH keys) every Tuesday and Wednesday (the “Fuego” variety, the hot kind, that they like best). There are cake pops for birthdays. And, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I brought a jar of peanuts and packages of M&Ms and dried cranberries and yogurt raisins, and treat bags and funnels, and let them create their own holiday gift.
Last Tuesday, they had done practice state-mandated testing all morning, and were worn out. We read together, and as they left, someone said, “Takis?” Oh, no. I had forgotten. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “Oh, that’s okay,” they said, so kindly, as they went off to join their classes for a well-deserved recess.
On my way home, I stopped at Target to get some small apples. I put them in the treat bags first (the mouths of those bags don’t seem narrow if you’re just dropping in candy, but they’re not really meant for apples, which I learned back at Halloween). Then I put in some Valentine’s candy and packed them up (along with Takis), to take on Wednesday.
I bought these bags ages ago, thinking that it would be a cute and easy way to take special treats to the girls. But, even the smallest of apples is a struggle to get through the narrow neck of the bags.
Obviously, the apple has to go in *first,* before any other treat!
At Wednesday lunch, Meg and Jo arrived first and were thrilled to tell me that they had passed the first part of the practice test that they had taken on Tuesday. A 68 for Jo and a 60 for Meg, just barely passing. (I know she must be frustrated, because if she were back in Mexico, I think she would be a top-level student, if she could always be working in Spanish). Beth came in, and, when asked, didn’t have her score from the day before. (Actually, I think that in her class, everyone always passes.) We talked a little bit about the future, what they wanted to do as adults. They didn’t really have any ideas. Jo said an older brother wanted to be a policeman; she might be “police,” too.
“That sounds great,” I said. “I can imagine you as a police officer.” And I can. She’s a tall girl and has a very serious stare that I think would cause any offender to cower.
But they were all soooo grateful to be done, at least until the real tests, in April. They were just bouncing off the walls, very hyper-energized. We read, a little, and then I said, “It seems really quiet out there in the cafeteria. (We meet on the stage, with the curtain drawn.) I wonder if your classes have gone outside, already.”
“Oh!” They looked at each other, and Meg jumped up and walked over to some chairs stacked by the wall (where, when she came in, she had said, “I just have to put something over here.”) She came back to the table and put down a heart-shaped box—Russell Stover.
“For me?” I asked.
They were soooo cute!
“We planned it together,” they said.
Meg and her mom had done the shopping, and she explained, “My mom said that if we get something paper, it might just get thrown away. But, this, you can keep it and put things in it.”
I don’t know what I’m going to put in my box (after the candy’s gone, which won’t take all that long). But it will be something very special and treasured, for certain.
Hatred starts fights, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.
Proverbs 10:12 (The Message)
I wouldn’t call it “hate.” But there was a lot of mistrust from that “Jo” a year ago. She was never mean to me, but there wasn’t much eye contact, and she wanted me to know that she was cooperating because she wanted to, not because I asked. She gave off an “I don’t care about anything or much of anybody” attitude. This year, she’s still a strong personality, but less prickly around the edges. And I’m getting ‘waaaay more hugs these days, before I leave school each Tuesday and Wednesday.