Newlywed Love (#94)

September 1-4, 1970

The day after Nate’s newspaper meltdown, he was clear-headed and had his decision. He would quit the route. Although both of us had been taught not to be quitters, we agreed that this time it was a case of cutting our losses.

I went off to my first full day with the kindergarteners knowing that by the time I returned, a heavy burden would have been lifted from my husband’s worn out shoulders. And when I did come home, tired but content, he greeted me at the door – with a “thank-you-hydrangea.”

Hydrangea --Over and over he thanked me for being supportive of his decision to quit, saying he hoped I didn’t think less of him for it. But I told him that in my deepest heart, I knew it was the right thing to do and was proud of him for facing it head-on.

His boss hadn’t made it easy, but he had accepted Nate’s resignation, telling him he’d seen it coming. Then he reiterated his threat about the bond card.

“I’ll pay the money for sure,” Nate said. And we both knew he would.

Now Nate was eager to catch up on his Estate Planning course without the paper route hanging over him. Concentrated studying never looked so good.

Studying. The law school trimester system scheduled the fall term to begin in late September, so the heaviest part of his summer class was just ahead – lengthy papers and a complicated “memo,” Parts I, II, and III.

“I’ll type it all for you,” I said, wanting to help. “Maybe I can learn something.” With all the legalese in his papers, however, that was doubtful.

The week passed happily as we adjusted to a less-stressed life, and I got back into the rhythm of an 80 mile commute. I was figuring out who-was-who among my adorable students and treasured my time with them so much I would have taught them for free – had we not needed the money.

With my regular paycheck, though, we could chip away at the $170 debt and show good faith to both sets of parents by starting paybacks to them, too. We planned to drive to Wilmette over Labor Day weekend to help our friends Lynn and Don get married, and would also get to catch up with family… including Baron!

Earlier in the week Nate had secured permission to borrow four Army swords for the wedding arch, and by Thursday his pressed uniform was hanging in the bedroom, all set to go. My pseudo-military gown was ready, too, hanging at Lynn’s house, where we had stitched it together.

Nate's uniformAfter dinner on Thursday we were packing when I surprised Nate by coming out of the bedroom in his Army coat. I knew he would love it, and he did, asking me to pose for a picture.

I also knew he’d want to quickly take it off and get it safely back on the hanger… which is why I wasn’t wearing anything underneath. Who knew packing could be so much fun?

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.” (Proverbs 5:18)

Newlywed Love (#92)

August 31, 1970

 

I’d been looking forward to this day for quite some time – the chance to meet my kindergarteners. Arriving at school for a one hour meet ‘n greet with each class, I couldn’t wait to connect. And I’d be meeting many of the parents, too.

As each one entered our large classroom, I introduced myself and asked their names. Some looked at the floor while mom prodded. “Tell Mrs. Nyman your name, honey. It’s OK.”

Others began talking and didn’t stop. A little girl named Ginny said, “I have 6 sisters.”

“Oh my! What are their names?” She listed them and then I said, “Are there any brothers?”

“Two.”

“What are their names?”

“Daddy and Rover.”

Kdg studentsSome of the children acclimated quickly, diving into the toys, while others struggled to separate. I invited any parents who wanted to stay to feel free, but many insisted their children say goodbye, tears or not. There were 4 criers.

 

My heart went out to these little 5-year-olds being forced to go through what was probably their first major life-crisis. As I tried to comfort them, my candy and my lap both came in handy.

Once everyone was seated on the “story rug,” I asked each child to say one thing to the rest of us, anything they wanted. A little girl named Brittany pointed to her mother, seated next to her. “This is my mommy.”

I barely had time to welcome her when Brittany continued. With wide-open eyes she said, “Guess what? I just found out she’s married!”

While we adults shared a giggle, Susie, next in line, spoke up – wanting to out-do Brittany. “Yeah, but my mommy just had a birthday!”

Six candles“Oh, that’s nice,” I said. “How old was she?”

“Six!”

Oh how I loved kindergarteners!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

In the course of the hour we had several skirmishes over toys or whose turn it was. But with so many parents stepping up to help, I didn’t have to deal with any of it. Instead I pushed forward with a curriculum overview as we all tried to keep a lid on irrelevant comments coming from our young peanut gallery. The parents laughed when I said our first project would be to learn how to raise our hands before speaking.

Wanting to talk

I ended the hour by telling the adults I considered it a choice privilege to be their children’s teacher and promised to stay in close touch throughout the year. Many of the families already knew each other from the neighborhood and seemed to feel right at home.

We made it through the hour with everyone intact, and as I drove home to Champaign late that afternoon, I knew it would be a fabulous year.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14)

Newlywed Love (#91)

August 24-29, 1970

 

Cannon SchoolAlthough the new school year in Danville didn’t start for another week, Cannon School was unlocked for staff to come and prepare their rooms. I couldn’t wait to see where I would be teaching, and wanted to meet the other faculty members.

The evening before I drove to school, my old carpool buddy Linda called. “Can you come over tonight?” she said. “Ron’s traveling, and it would be nice to catch up.”

We spent 3 hours together sharing news of the summer and talking about all the changes ahead for both of us. Linda would be teaching at a new school, too, and our third friend Judy had already moved to New York City. At the end of the evening, we promised to stay current with each other.

The next morning I was back on route 74, heading for my new school on the other side of town from last year’s McKinley. The Fiat was piled high with teaching supplies, and I couldn’t wait to get set up.

Mr. AtkinsonFirst I checked in with the principal, Mr. Atkinson, who walked me to my “garden level” kindergarten room – in the half-basement. It was huge! And I loved it immediately. There was even a piano to accompany our singing times.

Mr. Atkinson told me my enrollment would be about 15 per class, morning and afternoon. Compared to my first teaching job in Chicago with nearly 50 children in one room, this would be a cake walk.

Across the hall another kindergarten teacher was setting up, too, so I introduced myself and learned of her many years of experience. “Come over any time if you have questions or problems. I’ll be happy to help.”

My kdg roomBy mid-afternoon everything was ready for “my” children, who I would be meeting the next week. Knowing that kindergarten would be the first school experience for most of them, I set out toys, books, and puzzles, hoping to win them over with a fun start. Despite all that, I knew some would be in tears anyway, so I stashed a little back-up in my desk: candy.

That night I went to bed early, wanting to be fresh for orientation meetings starting the next day. At the district-wide event, I ran into several people I knew from McKinley School, and met most of the Cannon teachers. It was a plus that many of them were young and full of energy.

At the end of the week, Nate and I had arrived at our 9-month anniversary, and he gave me a very creative gift – a willingness to join me for the final get-ready day. He wanted to meet the principal and those I would be working with, and to see the room I’d been raving about.

PreparationsI was overjoyed about his interest in my job and loved being near him all of that day. Watching him play silly games with the kindergarten toys was pure entertainment.

We celebrated our anniversary by going out to dinner at Mr. Steak. Nate asked for my thoughts about starting a new teaching year and assured me that one day it would be him supporting me instead of the way it was now.

But I didn’t mind and was genuinely happy to be teaching kindergarten again. Even better than that was knowing I’d get to spend another year living with the one I loved more than anyone else in the world.

“Hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)