Archive | March, 2016

Out of the Mouth of Babes

25 Mar

Auntie is one of those people who must be in charge.  All decisions flow through her.  She laments regularly about having to make all the decisions.  However, if she doesn’t make the decision, then whoever did is ridiculed for having made the wrong decision … ad nauseam.  Consequently, those around her are paralyzed with fear for either allowing Auntie to make the decision and then hearing that she’s tired of making decisions or making a decision and then hearing Auntie complain that it was the wrong decision.

The result can be bad enough on an adult (psychological domestic violence?), but imagine the damage to a child (child abuse or endangerment?).

Auntie typically sent three outfits for church when her child spent the night.  Allegedly, the nine-year-old then had options of what to wear to church.  These were mostly mix-and-match things that fit well together, and any combination could have be deemed successful.  Sadly, Auntie didn’t see it that way.  Auntie visualized three distinct outfits without the mix-and-match component.  Unfortunately, you must have been a mind reader to discern Auntie’s preferences.  The child arrived with a stack of clothes: three shirts, three slacks, and three pair of socks.  They weren’t matched in any fashion.  It was simply a pile of clothes.

Together, the nine-year-old and I selected an outfit for church: blue socks, Navy blue slacks, and a powder-blue Oxford shirt.  Success?  No, total failure!

Auntie arrived and began before the first “hello.”

  • “Those socks don’t belong with those slacks.”
  • “Not that shirt, but the blue knit shirt with the stripes.”
  • “Where are your shoes? You can’t wear Spiderman shoes to church.”

Auntie’s rant continued for 15 minutes unabated … and uninterrupted.  Any intervention is the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire.

Finally, her four-year-old nephew stepped forward and declared, “Auntie, you’re just a bully!”

The silence was palpable as she collected her son and went to church.

JC’s First Drive

13 Mar

Green Cab Over  My father had a truck similar to this one.  It had sideboards for hauling grain.  It also had a stock rack that fit over the sideboards for hauling livestock.

I remember sitting in the truck with my mother while father ran the combine.  She used to crochet while waiting for the truck to be loaded so that she could deliver the grain – wheat, oats, soybeans, and corn — to McComb Farmers Co-op (Hancock Station, Shawtown, or McComb) or the grain elevator in Hoytville.  How many afghans and bed spreads did she crochet while waiting in that truck?  I distinctly remember the orange and brown afghan that I still have as well as a white bedspread with red roses that disappeared long ago.

I also remember that the truck was hard to start.  It had a kickstarter under the driver’s right heel back by the seat.  You’d depress the clutch or confirm that the transmission was in neutral, set the choke if it was cold, turn the ignition switch on, and commence to kicking.  (It was quite a challenge if you were on a hill.)  I can’t remember it ever taking less than five kicks to get it started, and then there were times that it seemed to require an infinite number.

There’s a family story of which I have no present sense recollection but have heard it hundreds of time during my life.

Apparently this occurred about the first day of pheasant hunting season (early November) when I was two or thereabouts.

My father had purchased a Holstein bull.   My father had the stock rack on the truck, and I rode along when he went to pick it up.  It was somewhere along the Rader Road (Pleasant Township Road 126) not far from McComb.  I stayed in the cab and out of the way while the bull was loaded.

We returned home, and father backed up to the feedlot to unload the bull.  Again I stayed in the cab and out of the way.  For my protection, I locked the doors of the cab.  After the bull was unloaded, I switched the key on, put the gear shift in the lowest gear, and pushed on the starter with both hands.  (According to my father, this is the only time that this truck started on the first try and while in gear without the clutch depressed.)  The truck started and slowly began moving towards Pleasant Township Road 123 in front of our house and the drainage ditch beyond.

After the initial shock of hearing the truck start, my father tried to get into the cab.  With the doors locked, that avenue was frustrated.  My father then commenced to push against the truck trying to get it to stall.  Fortunately, some pheasant hunters came by and helped my father by pushing against the truck until the motor stalled.

Since, as I’ve stated before, I have no present sense recollection of this incident, I have no idea how long it took to get me out of the cab nor whatever punishment followed.


Kustom’s by Kent. (2015). 1950 Chevrolet COE Flatbed Truck. Retrieved from Kustom’s by Kent:


A Quest for Kindergarten

6 Mar

The young master turned five.  He’ll start kindergarten in the fall.  The question becomes … where?

As part of the activities associated with Read Across America, the young master’s mother has been visiting schools to talk about tutoring services proffered by the public library.  These events are sponsored by the Literacy Coalition.  The events focused on children up to the third grade and presented literacy activities for the children and their parents – issuing library cards, storytelling, forming words from cut-out letters, doing puzzles, enrolling families in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, etc. — as well as showcasing community resources for reading, literacy, English as a second language, GED tutoring, library programs, etc. Those school visits have been insightful.

  • Teacher attendance varied. Some schools had the kindergarten through third grade teachers present while others had only one or two teachers there.
  • The interaction between children and teachers was telling. How often can you get excited about temporary book tattoos from Read for L.I.F.E.?  However, it is apparent that some teachers were as interested in the report from the sixtieth student as they were the first.
  • Some schools were bright and cheerful while others have Scrooge-like administrators removing light bulbs to make the atmosphere dark and dingy under the guise of saving money. (Or was it simply because the building was old? … Probably not.)
  • At some schools, the students politely asked for promotional items while at others they grabbed a handful and disappeared.
  • One newer elementary building was permanently decorated as a medieval castle throughout to emphasize the school’s knightly school mascot. (Perhaps the children are seen as pages and squires.)
  • An older building was transformed into a railroad. There were tracks down the hall.  Pictures of teachers and students decorated the windows as if they were in passenger cars.  All were reading.  The janitor was attired as an engineer and carried on animated conversations with students.

Although the activities reinforced two underlying ideas: (1) learning is fun and (2) there are simple things that parents can do to encourage learning, it was apparent that some schools had already bought the idea while others seemed blissfully ignorant.  (Could this be the difference between viewing teaching as a profession versus teaching as just a job?)

  • Look at the interaction between teachers and children (It’s so easy to discourage a child’s curiosity.)
  • Appreciate at the atmosphere created by the administration for learning (Schools ought not to be dungeons.)
  • Evaluate the school’s support for reading (It’s the building block of all learning,)

It frankly comes down to acting upon the school’s philosophy and/or mission statement, or simply giving it lip service.  The search continues for a kindergarten for the young master.  Thank goodness for the open enrollment option.

What do you think?