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a message received

In my second grade classroom we talk a lot about small moment stories. That a story can be anywhere. And I frequently tell them my own small moment stories, only because they are encouraged to write them. But before they can write them they need to know them, they need to hear them. And I have a little bit of a knack for telling a story if I do say so myself.

Yesterday, during one of our class meetings I told them that I had seen something on the floor the other day and it reminded me of a story. They all sat up a little straighter. They always do when I'm about to tell a story, and this is the story I told:

"When I was in seventh grade I had a teacher and her name was Mrs. Field. Maybe it was Fields? I can't remember now exactly.

"At any rate she had long hair she always wore corduroy pants and blazers--which is an old-fashioned word," I told them, "for like, a jacket...a jacket that you would wear inside."

"And one day, well many days really," I confessed, "we had a student in our class who liked to roll up little balls of paper and throw them it other students when Mrs. Field wasn't looking."

At this point a little flicker of realization was beginning behind some of their eyes. While some of them still remained blessedly oblivious and lost in the Wonderland of 7th grade Mrs. Mudd.

"Well, as luck would have it, one day she saw this and she realized what a blessing it was. You see, she needed a bunch of little rolled up pieces of paper for a project. So she noticed who it was--and really it was a couple of boys who were really, really good at this. And she told them that since they were so good at it they could help her with her project.

"And each one of them was given a brown paper sack--like lunch bag size-- and she allowed them to fill it up entirely with balled up pieces of paper. Little tiny ones. Not big ones, those weren't good for the project. She needed little tiny ones. And do you know how long it probably took them??"

The students said it probably took foreeeeeever. I agreed.

"Surely it took at least two weeks. And they didn't have to do it all the time, they only had to do it when they had time. Which in my memory must have been lunch and recess. And I'm sure they missed lunch and recess..? However it was just so kind of Mrs. Field to also give them the opportunity to practice something that they clearly loved so much--making these little tiny balls of paper..."

I sat there, a slight smile on my face as I lost myself in the memory of what a kind-hearted teacher she was, then I came back to the present.

"Just yesterday," I said. "I saw a little balled up piece of paper on the floor on the carpet. And it reminds me that I ALSO have a project that I need a bunch of those as well! So I wanted to tell you this story, really in order to ask you if any of you wanted to help me fill up brown paper sacks? And I wanted to let you know that I do need some help so I'll be watching for people in the classroom who seem like they're really good at it."

I finished relating the story to Maggie on our way to swim practice this morning.

She chuckled and said, "You truly are a horrible human being."

I said, "I am not a horrible human being I am a teacher who likes to teach free of nonsense. And I am a fan of creating a message that is received. And do you think they received that message?"
"Yes." Maggie said.

"And do you think any of them offered to help me fill up those bags for my project?"
Mags said sadly, no. And she was right.

"But do you think I saw any more of those wads of paper on my floor the rest of the day?"
"No, ma'am." Maggie said.
"No, ma'am, indeed," said I.

Mrs. Mudd: 1
Boys who like to make spit wads: 0

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