Courtesy of Hosanna Alm, photographer and friend extraordinaire.
The glint in her eyes told me she meant business. The banana she was pointing at my chest told me it was serious. Plastic trays clattered in the emptying cafeteria and laughter could be heard in the hallway. But next to the deserted food line all was quiet, save her infectious, Calvin-like giggling. Her Hobbes, also armed with a banana-gun, had just returned from stacking their lunch trays. Two to one. I didn’t like my odds.
I pulled a banana of my own from my cardigan pocket. Aha!
I clutched my chest as the pain of the fake bullet made its way deep into my ego, serenaded by the devilish laughter of the two fourth graders responsible for my wound.
Our banana war continued into the hallway where we were met by boys, also brandishing fruit. They were slightly more Viet Cong in their approach, coming behind the girls and pretending to slit their throats with banana-machetes. That’s where I put my foot down – partly because I can be a serious adult and partly because the teacher monitoring the hallway had just rounded the corner.
I’m collecting a series of memories that I call “teacher moments.” They’re the scattered minutes throughout the week that make my job so … gosh, so worthwhile.
How often do we have to be told ‘there’s no place like home’ before we believe that it’s true? And once we leave the welcome mat on our front doorstep for good, looking for our own windows to hang curtains in, what do we really lose?
Most of my friends left home for college at about eighteen. They didn’t only move out from under the roof they grew up under, but away from the churches and communities they grew up with. Transplanted into entirely new surroundings, they start over, making new friends and entering the next exciting stage in life.
I never left for college – I got my A.A. from a school ten minutes away from my house, so I stayed home after graduating high school. When I finally “got out on my own” – and believe me, I was aching to spread my wings a little – I was surprised to find the things I missed most from home weren’t my friends or my siblings or Little Caesar’s five dollar pizzas. I missed my parents, the women from my Bible Study, and the families in my church who provided me so much encouragement as I struggled to make this mission trip to Prague a reality. I yearned for the continual springs of wisdom and encouragement I was blessed with in San Diego. (Jerry and Marilyn have been incredible in this area and I go to them almost as much as I would go to my own parents – though I think they appreciate that I don’t flop into their room at 11pm and say things like, “I just can’t handle this anymore!” …Mom and Dad, you two deserve sainthood).
What I’ve also discovered is that there are people who will help shepherd, comfort …and feed you wherever you end up! So about once a month, I visit one such family who’ve been good enough to open their arms and their fridge.