One of the “Troublemint Twins” finally made it. Graduated, so to speak.
Our church and school are enclosed by the woods from which their building sites were excavated. The playground is heavily wooded, providing wonderful shade from the Mississippi heat and cooling the breeze while the students are playing. The equipment is more than adequate for the K-4 and K-5 classes, even a class of all six-year-olds.
But I don’t teach the fours and fives. My students are hunks of rumbling, tumbling, pre-testosterone-infested, BIG BOYS.
Across the street from our little compound is the behemoth known as Pinelake, a mega-church “community.” It is immediately accessible to us with its luscious field often used for soccer in the Spring. This field is bound by the not-too-busy state highway on one side, a gentle slope on another, and the rain runoff creek and trees on the other. It is a child’s paradise- and mine, seein’s how I’ve not quite reached that magical age of grown up, either.
Now that the weather has dried off some and begun to cool, I have extended recess and we spend it in the field two or three days a week. Most of the time I let the boys just kick balls a short distance or wrestle each other. They also like to roll down the slopes. These fellas enjoy tussling with each other like a pack of bear cubs, but it’s not their favorite thing to do at Pinelake, and I know it. Pinelake has treasures. They want to find them.
Last year I took my class farther up the Pinelake property along a creek. It was especially fun after rainfalls looking for animal tracks. Still, I didn’t have First Graders then. I also didn’t have the Troublemint Twins. They don’t listen very well. Exploring has not been an option so far this year.
There is a world of maturity between the First and Second Grades. However, when the incentive is right, it can be helped along. Going to the field is a privilege, not an expectation. If a student proves he cannot listen to me, he becomes what is known as a “Left Behind.” As one of the older students told my incoming students, “You don’t ever want to be a Left Behind! You never know what the Deaconess is going to do. We might go make animal prints and you’d miss out.” Two of the First Graders listened to the warning; the Troublemint Twins listen to their own pipes and tunes.
For several weeks the Troublemint Twins have been the Left Behind on the days when we go to Pinelake. They’ve been busy writing sentences during recess because they’ve turned learning time into their personal playtime.
Today, though, one of the Twins finally made it. It was a gorgeous, sun-bursty day. First the boys rolled down the slope. Then they ran across the length of the field. Next they scrambled down the gully by the rain culvert and hid from me. Then we walked by the trees and looked out for copperheads and moccasins. Next we climbed up the other rain drain and went back to school in time for lunch.
So what was the big excitement for this six-year-old to tell his father when he was picked up? “I got to go with the big kids! I found a tire rim, and Joey found a fence post, and Deaconess found half a marble.”
Yup. Treasures. Last year we even found us a dog skeleton. That was really cool.
That was the day one of my boys looked up at me and said, “This is a really neat place to go find things, but they don’t have Jesus on the altar, and they don’t baptize babies here. So we go back home for the real treasures.”