At lunch I sit at the head of the table. Seating arrangements rotate at my whim. Yesterday two boys sitting closest to me and opposite each other had finished their lunch before I had. The limitations of my range of vision meant I couldn’t see the one on the right, but I could the one on the left when he began to lean back in his chair, swish his mouth around oddly, and then suddenly jerk forward at his table mate. Next, his partner’s head would suddenly come into my line of vision as the first one would fall back in glee into his seat.
Playing is not permitted at table. We try to instill manners in the students while they are with us. So, I told the one his lunch was over, clean up his place, and go sit against one wall of the lunchroom. I instructed the other to do the same on the opposite wall. They could wait there while the class completed lunch.
They did as they were told. Then the odd movements of the students finally pieced themselves together in my brain. I walked over to one.
“You were spitting at my table?”
“No ma’am. Only pretending.”
I crossed the room to the other. “”You were spitting?”
“I was playing like it.”
I walked to the middle of the room, looked from one to the other, then turned and walked to the classroom. They knew what they’d find when they returned for the next class: their names on the board indicating that they would have disciplinary sentences to write.
It would have been so easy to slide on “just pretending.” It wasn’t the real thing, after all. Why bother? I could even find an excuse in me: a whole pile of sentences will not turn little boys away from being little boys and doing little boy things. So why no participate in the dumbing down of discipline? Why not give ‘em a break and be a “nice guy?”
‘Cuz the Law ain’t nice, but it is always good, that’s why.
It wasn’t what they needed.
No little boy needs to practice spitting on anyone in order to perfect the art- most assuredly at table.
God grant me the intestinal fortitude to be not nice according to the need of my neighbor! For, in this there is true love for the sake of his repentance. And may my neighbor be granted the same for my sake.