Sunday, January 13, 2013

Keep Your Pants On!

Lessons that stick are on my mind these days as I think about teachers from my past. I remember Miss Bobbi. She was my preschool teacher at the Living, Loving, and Learning Center. Her wisdom got me through my teens and her words still echo in my mind even now as I move toward my 50’s.

Miss Bobbie was about four feet tall with a smile that went from ear to ear and lit her eyes in a soft beautiful glow. Miss Bobbi loved me and I loved her. She just didn’t love that I was in her classroom.
I wasn’t a bad kid, just a “toad in a hot shovel” kind of kid. Accustomed to wide open spaces and places to climb, sitting still in a classroom was not my thing.  My back yard was an outdoor adventure ropes course learning lab. In our house we learned by doing and figuring out answers on our own through trial and error. By the time I entered pre-school I was already a strong willed, curious, high spirited independent little girl. Not exactly a teachers dream.
Miss Bobbie was up for the challenge and figured out ways to manage my energy, enthusiasm and curiosity. She would walk around the classroom with her head tilted toward the heavens whispering to herself, “God is My Rock . . . God is My Rock . . .” She would then call out to me, “Marty get right here in my pocket, stay close, you know I love you girl.”
I would scurry over to her and stay close until something or someone distracted me and then I’d be off again. Miss Bobbie would look to the heavens and continue her mantra, “God is My Rock . . . God is My Rock” and then shift her focus to call out to me, “Marty get right here in my pocket, stay close, you know I love you girl.”
Miss Bobbie was able to take a break from me each day at recess when we would walk out the back door of the classroom to the little preschool playground. She had seen the ropes course in my back yard and knew I could climb the 25’ cargo net with ease. She knew the little playground equipment would do nothing to drain my energy so each day she allowed me to go to the big kid’s playground.
Off I’d go skipping, running and dancing my way down a short path to play with the big kids on the big swings, see-saw and monkey bars. One day on my way down the path a beautiful rock appeared on the ground looking lonely and out of place. I picked it up in my little hand and stuffed it into my pocket. It was heavy and tugged at my shorts.
I arrived at the playground to discover that the 3rd and 4th grade boys were having a contest to see who could cross the monkey bars the fastest. Beating them would be easy and I quickly told them so. The race was on. I grabbed hold of those bars and began swinging myself from one rung to the next. I was winning the race and was about half way across the bars when the weight of that rock in my pocket brought my shorts right down to the ground.
Suddenly I was suspended in midair no longer moving forward. The playground quickly turned silent. No one moved. There was simply a collective gasp that sucked all the oxygen out of the air for a full square mile. It seemed that time itself stood still.
Then I saw Miss Bobbie out of the corner of my eye as I hung there in my princess panties. She was running down the path toward me moving faster than I had ever seen her move in my life. She gathered me in her arms, swooped down to pick up my shorts and ran with me still in her arms back into the classroom.
When we arrived in the class she put me down and dropped my shorts on the floor. They landed with a loud THUD. She picked up my shorts, newly focused on their weight and the huge bulge in the pocket she said, “What is in your pocket?”
I responded quickly, “God. I love him. I’ll keep him real close in my pocket.”
Miss Bobbie laughed and her entire beautiful roundness laughed with her. She looked at me and said, “Good idea. Keep God close and love him but when you play with the big boys . . .  Keep your pants on!”
Miss Bobbie’s wise words stuck with me and got me safely through my teen years (almost*). Now that I am a single “woman of a certain age” her words have come back to me. Old men are really just big boys you know. Some lessons just stick. God is my rock . . . and I’ll be sure to keep my pants on.

* - click and listen to "Skinny Dipping, Cops & Clergy"

Tune in next week for: "Polar Bear & Life in a Zoo"