WORDS FROM W.W. July 27, 2015
When I was in fourth grade I had a friend named Terry who was a bit rougher around the edges then me. Terry even would let a cuss word flow from his lips from time to time. He would walk the line between what was acceptable behavior and what was reform school acts.
And I hung around with him!
In some odd way I thought it made me took tougher. “Don’t mess with me! Do you see who I’m hanging around with?”
And so it was on a nice spring day at the close of school. Terry and I were leaving Williamstown Elementary to head home and we noticed thee was a kickball game going on at the school playground. We loved kickball, so we stopped and joined in the game. There is nothing better for a fourth grader than kickball after school…unsupervised!
We’d been playing a while when Terry kicked the ball to the outfield, but a player on the other team made a nice catch for an out. Terry let loose with an expletive!
Unfortunately, one of the fifth grade teachers, a beautiful lady named Mrs. Davidson, was walking by when the four letter word entered our world and she stopped and in a very nice way told him not to use language like that again.
End of story!
My fourth grade bravado raised its ugly head, and with pumped-out chest I did dumb! I yelled down the sidewalk at Mrs. Davidson as she strolled away from school. “What are you going to to about it, you old bag?”
Don’t ask me why I chose that moment to be a tough guy, but I can still see Mrs. Davidson doing a sharp U-turn and heading back towards a fourth grader who was now completely void of bravado. I was trying to hit the rewind button on my mouth to no avail. The condemned prisoner was about to be executed.
Her words were direct and clearly communicated. “Let’s go see Mr. Morton!”
Not Mr. Morton! Mr. Morton was our school principal. His first name was Shirley, which, I believed, caused him to approach students in a gruffer way. He is the only male I have ever known who was named Shirley, and it is a name that still strikes fear in me. Mr. Morton had snow white hair, was short and thick and carried a big paddle.
Mrs. Davidson escorted the two of us, Terry and me…the condemned about to die, to the principal’s office. Mr. Morton warmed our behinds quickly. It was “bun warming” redefined!
Terry and I walked funny all the way home. It took a good bit of acting on my part, but I never let on with my mom and dad that my backside was a bit sensitive to sit on at dinner time.
“How was school today?”
“Great…awesome! I got a 100% on my spelling test!”
I had done dumb and dumbness has a way of rippling through you for a while afterwards. I got a glass of water with ice a bit later, went in the bathroom and tried to cool my behind with the ice cubes. It didn’t work! I slept on my stomach that night. Never again did I call one of my teachers an old bag.
Two weeks later on a Sunday morning I had my junior usher suit on at First Baptist Church of Williamstown. I was on duty, ready to hand out bulletins and help collect the offering. I was looking like a nice Christian fourth grade boy who was serving Jesus.
And then Mrs. Davidson walked in with her husband, who was the high school wrestling coach. My Cheerios started to rise from my stomach. I turned as red as a beet! And Mrs. Davidson looked at me and with a smile on her face said “Good morning!”
With a squeaky high voice I responded “Good morning!”, handed a bulletin to her.
“Thank you!” She smiled at me in a forgiving way. My eyes spoke repentance, and I met was introduced to grace.
The Davidson’s became a part of our church, but never once did she mention my transgression. Grace moved us past it…and I will always be thankful!