September 10, 1970
The week after Labor Day would be a short one for me with only 4 days of teaching, but for Nate it would be a week overloaded with research and writing.
Not knowing if it would be a boy or girl, the color choice was difficult. I decided to buy whatever was on sale and ended up with lavender yarn – not that great for a boy, but still I had a 50/50 chance. The pattern I chose had a bright yellow duck on the front, so I hoped that would tip the outfit either way.
When I asked Mary if she would rather have buttons down the front or a turtleneck, her answer was an education for me. “Babies don’t really have a neck for about a year.” We shared a laugh over that and decided on a crew neck. If I knitted every evening, I would have both items ready for Mary’s surprise baby shower on September 24.
Nate’s study-stress was mounting, so one afternoon when I came in from work I suggested we pack up our dinner and have a picnic at nearby Hassle Park. He was game, so while I was frying some chicken, I packed up together what we had on hand: tomatoes, apples, oranges, and coffee.
Despite the odd menu, I knew a break in our routine would be good for Nate, and once we got there, I had a special surprise to lighten his load. At school I’d been writing down some of the crazy comments my kindergarteners had made, saving them for a moment when we needed a laugh. I tucked a few of those into our picnic bag, and once we were settled at the park, he began munching chicken and I read aloud.
Michelle said, “My sister is bigger than me.”
“What grade is she in?” I said.
After a group bathroom break during which I stayed in the hall to monitor both the girls’ and boys’ doors, one little guy came running out saying, “There’s a boy in there standing so far away from… that… thing… that he’s going to the bathroom all over the place!”
As I read my notes to Nate, He began grinning, wanting to know each child’s name – which I thought was cute.
Michael loved giving me hugs at every available opportunity so I said, “Do you give your mother nice hugs like you give me?”
“She’d lose her balance and fall right over. She’s really old.”
By now Nate was chuckling.
Melissa had been paying close attention to the religious instruction she’d been getting. “I got some beads for church,” she said. “They’re plastic.”
“Oh that’s nice,” I said. “What do you do with them?”
“I count them like this: 1… 2… 3… See? But I can’t count that loud in church.”
“I’ll mix up the other people on their numbers.”
“Couldn’t you count your beads at home?”
“No, only in church… in the back row. That’s where God lives.”
And by that time, Nate was laughing so hard he had to pull out his hanky to wipe away his tears. Laughter really is the best medicine.
“Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” (Proverbs 12:25)