Five Days

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Five days with sub titles in the life of a retired volunteer.

Day 1: There Is Someone At The Door
I got a call late last night that the Chief of Police would be coming by to see me this morning.  I had a hunch it would involve someone who needed my help.  Now, you must understand... I do not have a doorbell.  Anyone who is coming to see me must call first.  If I am in the back of the house I cannot hear if someone is at the front door.  I am not hard of hearing but the TV is usually going or I have music playing.  If I know someone is coming, I unlock the front door and instruct my callers to come in and yell.  The system has worked out until this morning.  I got up early and made coffee.  I sat at the breakfast room table awaiting the Chief's arrival.
I heard some chirping and glanced out the door.  Remember Oscar?  I wrote about him in "Ashley and Oscar" published earlier.  I was surprised when I spotted Oscar at the door and pulling the door handle down.
He scampered into the house, chirped at me, and went straight to the back and through the doggy door.  I thought, well that was strange, then suddenly realized he had invited guests.  A raccoon had arrived with two cats.  Now, you know how Sweet Pea, my ancient greyhound, loves to kiss everybody and everything.  Precious, my pit bull was delighted to see the new guests.  The welcoming committee was a bit much for the new arrivals.  Oscar and the raccoon ran off to play in the living room and the two cats ran up into Ashley's old cat tree.  Sweet Pea cried and cried. She just wanted one kiss from anybody.  She kept going back and forth watching Oscar and the raccoon jump from one thing to another in the living room.  Then she would come back to the bedroom and sigh as she glanced up at the cat tree.
Then I hear the Chief, "Jane are you here?"  I instantly close the doors off so the dogs cannot get into the living room.  I hear the Chief laughing as I enter the room.  Oscar and the raccoon darted off to the kitchen.  I glanced into the kitchen and spotted the raccoon washing a piece of the biscuit I was working on in my coffee.  Oscar was nudging him to keep moving.  He was not moved.  He was settling in to finish off my biscuit.
I greeted the Chief.  I told him about Oscar coming through the front door and inviting his friends with him.  The Chief asked about Precious.  Precious had been a gift from the Chief last year after Freddie had gotten hit by a truck and died.  I motioned with my finger for the Chief to follow me as I opened the door to the bedroom.
  We both were surprised at what we saw.  We both started laughing.  There was Precious up in the cat tree kissing the two new cats who did not dare go down the tree for fear Sweet Pea would have them for lunch.  I talked real sweet to the two cats until I could get my camera.  The Chief also took out his phone and snapped a couple of shots.
He finally told me the purpose of his visit.  He wanted me to volunteer as a substitute teacher at one of the preschools just outside of town.  He said the teacher would be back in 3 days due to a death in her family.  I ask why they did not have substitute teachers they could call in who could use the money.  He let me know it was a very particular preschool.  I would be in charge of 18 six-year-old children from the special needs class.  Finding the right teacher that fast would be impossible.  The three-down syndrome children I had helped before, "Storms That Frighten Children", already knew me and their mother had suggested me to the school board.
I thought about it for a few minutes.  I asked the Chief to go to the shelter and return with a cage to capture the raccoon for me.  I know he should be checked out but it was clear he was wild.  He needed to be released where he would not be vulnerable to people.  I did not want to take on that responsibility or pay for a permit.  The cats I would deal with as well.  It was clear they too were wild but I wanted to do a spay and release.  He agreed.  He left and got the cages for me and rounded up my house guests and took them to the vet for the proper care.
I agreed to report to the preschool on Monday morning.  I just said goodbye to all my morning guests... It is now ten-thirty in the morning... I am pooped.  I promise to keep you abreast of my new charges on Monday... Yikes, 18... 6-year-old kids and me.  I have started gathering stories.  I think I will need them before the 3 days of my assignment runs its course.
Guess what I am going to do this afternoon?  I locked the front door so Oscar would not use it to come in the door. I still do not know why he came in that way.  Maybe he saw me through the window.  Then I realized the problem.  Sweet Pea was laying down in front of the doggy door... waiting for the next guest.  Oscar had used the front door to get around the welcoming committee at the doggy door.
I cleaned up the crumbs from the biscuit the raccoon had finished off, poured myself another cup of coffee.
Day 2: Did You Know?
Did you know that cartoons have nothing to do with cars that sing or anything about car horns?
Did you know that car horns have nothing to do with big teeth sticking out of a car but is the noise the car makes when your mommy whats to cut in front of someone else in another car?
Did you know that some birds play baseball?  The Cardinals, the Orioles, and the Blue Jays.  This insight came from a little girl with a bird book.  She pointed out the ones who played ball.  She went on to tell us her grandfather had become a blue jay.  Apparently, that is what happens to ballplayers when they die... they pick what they want to become; some become birds.. some angels, some tigers, and some birds.
Did you know what you call sleeping goats?  Kidnappers.  As a follow-up with this one "kid" does not always mean goats sometimes it is another name for a child and sometimes it has something to do with joking about something.  There is a lot of confusion on this one for sure.
Did you know if you do not want any more brothers or sisters you have to try and keep your mommy from smiling because that is where your daddy finds them... behind your mommy's smile.  I told them; smiles are a way of letting others know you love them because smiling makes your eyes sparkle.  Also, sometimes when you laugh your eyes sparkle the most.  Besides brothers and sisters are gifts of love.
Did you know why there is a frog?  To keep flies from having too many babies.  It is also a disguise for magical royalty.
Did you know you can have New things without there being old things?  New York but no Old York; New Jersey but no Old Jersey.
Did you know that "a slip of the tongue" has nothing to do with putting underwear in your mouth?
Did you know that being a heavyweight has nothing to do with sitting around for a long time while your mommy gets dressed?  Or that a waiting room has nothing to do with how heavy it is?
Did you know that grandparents are grumpy because they forget to put their smiles back in when they get up?  Apparently, some keep their smiles in a jar in the bathroom.
Did you know that you have to count how many times your dog wags his tail because that is how he measures things?  The more he wags his tail the longer he lives.
I realize some of these revelations will come as a surprise to you.  But, I have only been back to school for one day.  These are the things I was taught today
There is something else I learned.  You need to know why a child asks a question... before you try to answer it.  "Where do babies come from?"  Is really a question about where his new baby brother was from and had nothing to do with why there is a New Jersey and not an Old Jersey.  What is an old jersey has nothing to do with an old T-Shirt.
One question I was asked made me stop and think a bit.  "Should I be shot?"  Why was the question asked?  His mommy likes the president and thinks those who do not should be shot; his daddy does not like the president and thinks those who do like him should be shot.  He loves both his parents and is not sure if he should be shot because he does not even know the president.  I explained that sometimes the word shot means to take someone's picture.  I also excused myself, got a tape player, and started the conversation with the child again.  He repeated the question, "Should I be shot?" But this time he went further, "Should I be killed?"  I allowed him to complete his thoughts and he started to cry.  I ask why he is crying, "Somebody in my family is going to die but I just don't know who."  I gave this child a big hug.  Dried his tears and told him again, that sometimes the term being shot means to take someone's picture like with a camera.  I also added that as long as he is surrounded by love no one can hurt you.  Then I put my arms around him again and just let him cry.  He finally cried until he got sleepy and I put his nap-mat down and let him finish his nap with the other children.
Before letting his parents pick him up, I played the tape for them.  I reminded them that little pitchers have big ears.  They hear what you are saying but the interpretation is from a six-year-old.  Don't allow your political point of view destroy the one thing you both love dearly.
I also would like to add that I set the class straight about one thing.  I walk funny because I have a hitch in my get-along not because my hip-m-plants are trying to grow new leaves.
This pretty much covers my first day as a substitute teacher for a class of 18 six-year-old children.  Yikes!  I can hardly wait to find out what I learn tomorrow.  As a teacher, I always believed I arrived as a teacher and left as a pupil.  I was right.
Day 3: Moo-Sick
I completed my 3 days of volunteering as a substitute teacher today.  What a blessing it has been.  My education was indeed lacking.  I have discovered a new view or let's say frame of thought about children's logic.  While it is usually straight forward; it is always based on things they think they know.
I think back to how I reasoned things out when I was six.  Yes, I can remember that far back; ... and no,  the dinosaurs were not around at the time.  I do think I remember my grandmother talking about the first senior moment (as if she were there) when a dinosaur was heard saying, "Oops was that today?" as he watched the arch sail away. 
I would have to say my theory about the logic of a six-year-old remains the same.  Straight forward and based on what they think they know.
I asked a simple question: How many of you enjoy music?  The discussion took all day and it took everything I had to keep my face straight.
First, we discussed exactly what is moo sick. It had nothing to do with a sick cow.  I played some classical music from a cd and we discussed "stringed in sta mints".  (One little boy knew all about mints because his mother grows it in the window of the laundry room.)
Then I played some music from the '50s; Dean Martin, Andy Williams, and some insta-mentals like Tiawana Brass.  I played some Elvis, some 60's and 70's rock and roll.  With the help of YouTube and my Laptop, the day was a success.  The one they loved the best was Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop.  Some things never change.  Children still respond best to what is simply funny, gentle, and loving.
The discussions about horns that were not in a car or on the head of some animals.  The 'real' insta- mint' called a horn and blowing into it to make moo sick.  Pictures of the different horns helped on this one.  There were many "AW's".
The eye-opener of the day was when we talked about singing.  I ask one little boy if he could carry a tune.  He almost started to cry, I instantly stopped and asked why he was so upset?  "Mommy says I can't carry a tooooon."  She is my boss, please don't ask me to do it."  I smiled and told him I could not carry one either.  He sighed, I smiled, he shrugged.  All was forgiven.  He then whispered to me, "I don't know how ... I have never even seen a toooon.  Is it heavy or jus' hard to pick up?"
We had discussed git-tars when we discussed stringed insta-mints.  We talked about pee-annos and "keys" both black and white keys.  One little girl wanted to know if only black people could play the black keys?  I told her the pee-anno could be played by anyone no matter what.  When I told them the black keys were for the "sharps" in moo sick they gasp.  "Will they cut you?"  We then got to look at notes and how moo sick is read.  I learned the sharps were not sharps at all but hashtags and pound signs.  They did not know what 'hashtags' were but they knew how to recognize them.  They were surprised to learn they also stood for a sound.  That made sense since git-tars did not have black keys and were also a 'stringed' insta-mint'.  The base fiddle they decided was the git-tar for a giant.  One little girl decided the bow in her hair could not be used to 'stump' across strings of a giant git-tar, or bio-lin, or even a 'phi dell'.  Stretching it across a stick made no sense to her at all. 
I asked the question, "Does anyone know about any other insta mints?"  Yes.  One little boy popped up, with his handheld high, and announced his grandpa could play his bottom.  He made moo sick every time he walked into the bat room.  The whole class chimed in on that one.  It seems having a grandparents who "toot" when they walk is a good thing.  It also seems it is not limited to grandparents.  The secret was to not be behind them when they are doing it... it smells sometimes.
When it was time for me to say goodbye I got hugs and kisses from all eighteen of the children.  I think I cried a bit coming home.  I am so blessed to have been called to serve and will volunteer in a heartbeat if ever called to repeat the experience.
Day 4: Rewards
Last Monday was my first day to volunteer as a substitute teacher for a special needs class of 18 six-year-olds.  I wanted to let you know exactly what I learned by going back to school.
You must understand this class had children with all sorts of needs; retarded children, down syndrome, autism, missing arms, missing legs, severe stuttering, and more.  I was a bit nervous about address such a class because it had been a while since I had worked with children with special needs.  The last time I believe was several years ago when I worked with a Special Olympics group.  I was an energetic, fast-moving, quick response teacher back then.  I was always able to keep up with my charges.  I was not so sure how the class would accept me.  This is the same thing each of these kids faces with everyone they meet.  This time I had a portable oxygen machine and was in a wheelchair due to a fall I had taken in my yard.  I was bound by these things when I lived at the lake but had lost weight and exercised to the point I no longer needed them until about ten days before being asked to do this.  I prayed, I felt so sure, at the time I had accepted the assignment.  When Monday rolled around... I was not so sure.
I had all my extra batteries for the oxygen machine in the bottom of my purse.  I had my cane in case I needed to stand up.  The chief of police had promised to pick me up (I am sure someone thinks I was being arrested for something...LOL) and deliver me to the school. 
I had thought the first day we would talk about colors.  I had done a great deal of study on the subject after I died back in 2016.  I wrote about the experience in my blog "Taking the Tired Out of Retirement" so I won't talk about that part.  I want to tell you about the rewards of just letting something unfold.
I was sitting in my wheelchair at the front of the class when the students started coming in and making their way to their desks.  I had a list of the names to be checked off.  I had a seating chart to be able to identify each student.  I introduced myself then I ask each one what their name was and wanted them to introduce themselves.  Their responses told me all I needed to know.
1)"I am Jake. Can you do wheelies?"
2)"I am Becky.  Can you blow bubbles?"
3)"I am Tommy.  What happens when you sneeze?"
4)"I am Hunter.  Do I know you?"
5)"Hi, I'm Linda, I'm a princess.  This was followed by a very sweet smile and bow to me.
6)"Hi, I'm Jo, but I'm a girl, see... I'm wearing pink."
7)"How fast can you go in that thing?  Oops, I am Darlene."
8)"Do you know how to make a kite?  Do you read my badge?"  The name on his bade was Tyler.
9)"Can we play inside today... It is too cold to do it outside.  Can you stand up?  What is in that black box?  Chief told Mommy you had plants in your hips.  Can we see em?  I am Ralph."
10)"Why are you here?  Where is our teacher?  Are you nice?  (I winked and smiled) "Oh, you are.  I am Hank."
11)"I am Debbie, I have a new dog named Yummy.  Do you like dogs?  He is just a puppy now but he will grow up with me."
12)"I am Alice, I want to go home and watch car tunes."  An argument began over the fact that cars do not sing but they do honk.
13)"I am Forest."  A hand wave followed the whisper from this very shy little one.  I touched the other arm and patted the mechanical hand he was trying to hide.  He glanced up at me and smiled the biggest (tooth missing) smile.  He was totally delighted I was not afraid to touch him.  I even took his hand and let him touch my wheelchair.
14)"I am Bobby, I am a lot of trouble so you best let me be."  I looked somewhat surprised and replied... "I know exactly how to deal with trouble... how do you think I ended up in this chair?"  His eyes got very big and he suddenly thought about being confined to a chair.
15)"I am Wendy, I know you.  You helped my family when we had a storm.  I remember.  You are the story lady."  She turned to the rest of the class and said... "This is the lady who found Magic in the storm."  The whole class sighed and did an "Awe."
16)"Hi, I am Randy." He too whispered, I replied, "How do you do Randy?"  Then in a full voice; "You heard me?" "Yes, I did."  "Shoot."  He apparently did not like the idea that I might be hard of hearing.
17)"Hi, I am Martha.  I have a new baby sister and she has as many wrinkles as you do.  Do you think she will always be that way?"
18)"Hi, I am Scot.  Is there an old jersey?  Where do babies come from?  My Daddy says from New Jersey."
19)"Hi, I am Wanda.  Babies come from behind your mommy's smile... Daddy said so.  Do you have any children?"  A special note here:  Wanda was Scot's cousin and only there for one day.
Not once was I shamed.  Not once was I judged for being in a wheelchair or for needing oxygen.  They did question my ability to understand children if I did not have any of my own.  Little Wendy helped me on that one.  I had babysat with her and her two sisters several times.  It had been Wendy's mom who had recommended me for this assignment.  I talked about colors and how important they are to our everyday life.  We talked about sunrises and sunsets.  We talked about rainbows.  No one brought up anything about anyone's skin color, handicap, or ancestral origin.  All the kids accepted themselves, each other, and me without reservation.  Tolerance comes naturally... hatred must be taught.  I have another story about sunrises and sunsets that explains what I told the kids about during my first and second day.  My 3rd day was about moo-sick... another story altogether.
My reward... the world is in good hands as long as these special needs children are allowed to flourish and learn.  I got to peek at some wonderful minds.  Being accepted is magical and should be practiced by grown-ups.  Tolerance is powerful.
Day 5: The Dinner Party
This story actually begins in another story, There Is Someone At The Door. The Chief of Police had come by to ask me to volunteer as a substitute teacher for a group of children. My car battery was dead so I accepted the assignment with the agreement that he would arrange transportation for the three days I would need to be at the school. He agreed. I thought at the time that me being picked up by a police car for three days might raise some eyebrows in the neighborhood. I was right.
Now, you must understand I have one neighbor who is considered the town gossip. If you want to know what is going on in town you just have to say, "Hello" to her. She will start filling you in. She does not check out any facts she just tells you what she thinks is going on based on what she actually saw.
As an example: Last year my sweet pitbull, Freddie, was hit by a truck and had to be put down because of his injuries. The Chief of Police had to be notified and we had to get permission to put Freddie down. The Chief was at a city council meeting. My house is within walking distance of City Hall so I crashed the meeting. Before it was over the entire city council was in my front yard and attended Freddie's funeral. I cried all night.
Then the next morning the Chief of Police showed up at my front door with Precious on a leash. Precious is a sweet pit bull, about six years old, whose owner had died. The lady fostering her was on the city council. She and the Chief got together and decided I would be a good candidate to adopt her. They were right. The only problem I had was that... well... Freddie played with toys and Precious ate them. She had devoured every one of Freddie's toys by early evening. I did not know what to do. She wanted to play and I wanted to bond with her. I did not dare leave her in the house alone while I went to get more toys. Then I thought about Frisbee. I bet she would love chasing something like that. Then I spotted the huge stack of paper plates I had not yet opened. I took them one at a time and tossed them across the yard. She chased each one down and delightfully tore it up. Then headed back for another. She finished off the entire stack. She slept with me that night (and every night since) but by the next morning, there was confetti all over my yard. I decided I was going to need more paper plates and a rake. Off to Dollar General.
I felt sure Precious would be secure until I got back.  This is where I met my neighbor, the Queen of the gossips. I overheard her telling another lady in line about the new widow in town. "The police have been at her house for at least two hours last night. Then this morning she had confetti all over her yard. I bet that was some party." I resolved that situation by inviting her to the next party. She was shocked when I told her she would have to bring her own paper plates.
The only reason I am telling you this is that I knew with the Chief picking me up for 3 days I would need to set the record straight on whatever the Queen had been telling others. To accomplish this task I decided to have a small dinner party. I had asked the neighbor to do me a favor earlier this week so that I would have an excuse to invite her. I had invited the Chief of Police, his wife, and the Queen. I felt it would be a good way to say thank you for all their help as well. Two birds, one stone ... you know the drill on that one.
I had prepared a wonderful baked chicken stuffed with pepperoni and three kinds of cheese and topped off with an Italian tomato sauce. It was like having chicken pizza without the crust. Anyway, I had a tossed salad and baked potatoes. I had fixed banana pudding for dessert and was very happy when everything came out on time. My guests had arrived and we were all seated at the table. We all heard the click and turned to look...
Oscar, a squirrel I had fostered when his mother got killed, opened the front door and let himself in. He scampered over to the table and ch-erupt at the Queen. She was the only one at the table he did not know. Everyone's mouths were wide open as they watched Oscar scamper up the poor woman's leg, jump to the table, and ch-erupt at her again. Then as everyone let out the breath they had been holding... Oscar snatched a piece of the garlic bread I had on the table and dipped it in the Queen's dinner. He sat there and stared at her, eating and ch-erupting. The Chief had already met Oscar and knew the story behind him. Just as I started to pick Oscar up to pop him outside he scampered back down the leg of the table this time, ran to the doggy door, and invited in another raccoon. The raccoon was wild and ran everywhere. I glanced at the Chief. He instantly grabbed one of my boxes I had set aside for the burn barrel and put it over the raccoon.
He then got on his cell phone and had an officer bring a caring cage while he sat there with his foot on the box so the raccoon could not escape. The Queen was still dumbfounded... I went to pop Oscar back outside through the doggy door when Sweet Pea, my ancient greyhound, bounded into the room. She was delighted to finish off the poor woman's plate before giving her a, "Hello," kiss...right in the mouth.
Everyone was laughing, (thank goodness), as I ushered Precious, Sweet Pea and popped Oscar out the doggy door then raced to the front door to lock it. We all sat in silence when we heard a tap, tap, tap, on the front door. We all burst into laughter at once. I simply said... would anyone like dessert? The Queen said, "Jane there is no way anyone will believe me."
The rest of the evening went perfectly. The chief and his officers took care of the raccoon and Oscar was out for the night. We played Pictionary and had a blast. The Queen turned out to have a wonderful sense of humor. I can hardly wait to find out what I have been doing the next time I go to the grocery store. I know she will find a way to tell about, Jane's dinner party.
I survived the five days.  I learned a lot about myself.  I am in awe of all that I experienced... the good, the bad... all of it.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Submitted: September 22, 2020

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