The setting? Grandma's dining room at dinnertime
"Mom, did you get a letter from my teacher today?" asked Eli as he absentmindedly stirred his mac 'n' cheese with his spoon. When she replied that she hadn't, he looked relieved and said, "That's good then." The Kindergartner's demeanor suggested that he intended to speak no more on the subject, but his mother wasn't having any of it.
"What would your teacher write me a letter about?" she asked.
Eli sat there silent for a few moments as he composed a diplomatic way of expressing the incident. "I think it bothered my teacher that more kids were paying attention to me than paying attention to her."
"And what was it that you doing that was so interesting to the other children?"
"Um, well, I kind of" stammered Eli. He placed his tongue between his lips and blew hard, making a noise not unlike a certain bodily function that can't be named in the newspaper. He noticed the good humor in grandma's face (even though she tried to keep it under control) and took encouragement. "And all the kids were laughing so hard, that I kept doing it!" Satisfied with his account of the school day, he dug back into his dinner.
His mom silently mouthed to grandma and me across the table: "He is NOT going to be the CLASS CLOWN."
Changing tactics, she asked him if he could name the jobs of everyone at the table.
"You work at a bank and count money," he said confidently to his mom. He pointed at me and said, "Uncle Ian helps people." Then he pointed at grandma and said, "Grandma cooks dinner and grows things in her garden."
Then she asked him what his teacher's job was. "Easy. She teaches kids stuff they need to know."
Then she asked what his job was. His change of expression demonstrated that he realized a trap had sprung. A lot less enthusiastically he replied, "Pay attention to the teacher Learn stuff Don't make the other kids laugh..."
We all chatted a bit more about the difference between having a job and doing a job well. Eli promised to be the best student he could be when he went back to Kindergarten the next day. Then he added hopefully, "On the bright side, the teacher forgot to send a letter home"
Wise old King Solomon had it right when he penned, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV). May we all do our best job at whatever we need to accomplish today.
Ian Eastman, M.A. promotes the wellbeing of our community at Family Services of Warren County. Warren Gives returns on May 14 and Family Services hopes you will consider making a contribution towards its charitable work.