Originally posted on Miss P’s Ponderings on August 7, 2013.
Birthdays, ballgames, and baptisms!
Why would I lump those three things into one writing? Well, they’re the main three ways that “my kids” invite me into their life outside of the school walls.
Over the 17 years I’ve been in third grade, I’ve been invited to a handful of birthday parties. Sabrina’s was at her house on a Saturday while I was in the midst of my graduate degree. Fortunately, our professor at that point, liked to dismiss us early, so I was able to make it to her party, share a piece a cake, and visit with a few girls from my current and previous classes. Then, Tiffany invited me to a birthday party that took place at Mr. Gatti’s during the weekend I was involved in DiscipleNow with my college kids. At that point in my career, I was attempting to teach full-time as well as lead a Baptist Collegiate Ministry on Hanover College’s campus. So, while my college kids had a few hours of free time, I skipped out and made a quick stop at Mr. Gatti’s to give a hug to the birthday girl. There have also been birthdays at the bowling alley, neighborhood churches, and various homes along the way. If I can stop by with a card and a hug, I do. Sadly, a few times, my memory has completely blanked, so an apology message goes out quickly…like last year when I completely forgot about Kenny’s birthday during spring break. I felt like such an awful person for forgetting, but Kenny’s reply, “That’s OK, I understand.” What a sweet kid!
Then….there are ballgames…and dance recitals…and… (gulp) wrestling matches. How many of these have I gone to? Too many to count…or even name. I generally tell my kids to bring me a schedule & I’ll try to attend one of their games. So…I’ve seen soccer games, baseball games, football games, basketball games, dance recitals…and (gulp) wrestling matches. I’ve yelled…taken pictures…given hugs…chatted with parents…and stood and applauded the extracurricular activities of my students. Some are easy…basketball games and soccer games fly by. Some are fine…football games (Please don’t get hurt) and baseball games (Please get a hit) and dance recitals (Aren’t they cute!). Then…there are….wrestling matches.
My nephew wrestled one year…maybe two. That’s when I realized that I’m not a good audience for wrestling. Why? Well, I spend my career telling kids to “keep their hands to themselves” and to “be courteous and respectful of all others and at all times”. So…then you come to a wrestling match. You hear adults yelling, “Take him down”, “Pin him”, “Grab his legs”. Ugh! It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. Now before any wrestling fans attack, I know athletes tend to get hurt in other sports more often than wrestling…I’m just saying….It’s hard for this elementary teacher to watch. But…do I? Of course. When Joey, Jakob, Elijah, Cliffton, & Brayden all tell me they’re wrestling and ask me to come…I have no option but to go. So, I watch, I clap, I hug, I take a picture of me and the wrestler…and as soon as all are finished…I hightail it out of there. Pictures are posted, students are proud, personal discomfort is worth it for their joy.
Of course, the down side of me attending sporting events is sometimes it hinders my students’ skills. As I watched Katelynn’s coach-pitch ballgame, I’m standing behind her mother and another mother. The other mother says, “She’s just nervous because her teacher is here.” Oops! After one inning of fielding and getting up to bat, I exit so her skills will improve. From being an aunt, I know the after effects of a ballgame with no hits….no fun. Then, there was the wrestling match where one of my boys who “always gets the pin” ended up being pinned within the first few seconds. It was so quick that I didn’t even get a picture. So…after the boys were finished, I left before the next round started. Then, there’s the soccer game where every time the ball is dead a boy yells “Hi Miss Pflaumer” and waves. Oops! Paying more attention to your teacher than the soccer ball…not a good plan. Oh well…the joy on their face shows I should be there.
However, out of all the invites I’ve received, there’s two that stand out the brightest. Twice in 17 years I’ve been invited to see the baptism of a student. Several years ago, Nathan invited me out to the church where his dad serves as pastor. He and his twin brother were both being baptized. So, I went to Sunday School at my church, and then went out to his church to witness his baptism. Last year after spring break, Elijah told me he met with his pastor and accepted Jesus as his Savior. I told him to make sure and let me know when his baptism was scheduled. It ended up being on the same Sunday I was supposed to help serve a lasagna dinner at my church, but baptism by far trumps lasagna!
Yes, the new academic year has started. Teacher-student (family) connections have begun. Invitations are just around the corner, but I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.
So, who have you invited into your life recently? What child would be ecstatic to see you sitting in the bleachers or lawn chair? What neighbor would love for you to give them a hug on his/her birthday? What person has recently accepted Christ who you could witness being baptized and encourage in his Christian walk? Don’t go home, lock the door, and put your feet up. There are people who need you in their life…go be there.