Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Audience

Yesterday's post was your appetizer.  Today is an expanded explanation...for the curious.  Oh, I know you're out there.  Some of us actually NEED to know the rest of the story.  

The events listed in my 55 all happened Friday morning.  I started running a bath, jumped in only to discover that lukewarm isn't quite warm enough to describe the temperature of that water.   Hubby had suspected something was amiss and had contacted a plumber, still thinking the temperature was just beginning to decline.  However, being the  first one to hit soap and water  I spared him one eye opener of a morning ritual.  

Friday also meant a scheduled return to the Vet for one dog {Smokey the Elder} to have a tube removed from an ear injury.  Instead, he ended up having to take both.   As if it's not bad enough to have a wife with pollen issues, it appears that Smokey's son {Bou the Younger} has some sort of condition akin to allergies.  Ah, meds for both of us!

But between wondering how the hot water heater found out I'd been paid and the Vet's impending vacation plan via us, I had to go speak to a group.   I'm not fond of speaking to crowds, although my job calls for it on occasion.  But most of those times, the majority of the audience are senior citizens I know or work with.   Piece of cake.

Not this time.  Two hours before closing on Thursday, my Boss called and asked me to stand in for her at a "My Community & Me" event.   Bottom line: I had to represent our Department at an assembly for 4th graders first thing Friday morning.   Having been volunteered  [again],  I asked what she'd like me to cover.  

"You can handle it," was the reply.  Oh and perhaps mention registration for Basketball is coming up and Double Dutch is fun.   

I spent some time Thursday evening preparing a handout to leave with a teacher, still wondering exactly what they wanted to know about my job.  This program has been ongoing for 15 years and usually consists of representatives from all walks of life.  The idea is to show how each job contributes to making a community.

The only thing nice I've discovered about getting older is that you one day realize that most of life is handled like a dress rehearsal for a play that's never presented to a paying crowd.  Get up, go out the door, deal with what happens.   When I walked into the school Friday, I  recognized someone.  And thus, in keeping with the "Oh really?" theme of my morning, I learned that in spite of my mini pre-planning session and personal pep talk in the car, we were allowed approximately 60 seconds each: name, agency and quick summation.  As I looked around the room, someone called my name.  Before his teacher could shush him, we made eye contact and smiled at each other.

Who was he?  The Boss' grandson.

The idea behind the program is a solid one: teach kids about their community at a young age so they can see how they can positively impact their own future.   The method of delivery, however, is somewhere between corny and embarrassing.  Imagine, if you will, adults representing a myriad of Businesses, Government, Military, Arts and Volunteers standing in a circle around kids who are seated.  We're each holding a bright yellow sign denoting our agency.  It took every ounce of adult in me not to laugh while carrying that sign.  You see, I represented Parks and Recreation, but my sign said, "Beauty and Recreation."   Oh sure, that makes you feel more comfortable in a room filled with strangers.  Plus, I've been blogging with you people for too long and had to remind myself not to let the quip which is no doubt trembling on Thom's tongue to even enter my mind.  Did I mention that while holding these signs, we also had to simultaneously hold onto one VERY long yellow ribbon which "tied" us together?    The ribbon is meant to symbolize that Community is like a circle: everyone is a part of it and if we all contribute, we all live better.    

To the untrained eye, it appeared we were trying to corral 80 kids with a yellow ribbon.

There was a little story at the beginning, "performed" by the Mayor  representing the City and a man playing the role of County Government.  From the looks on the kids' faces, many thought it was dumbed down and they got a little restless until the part where they were allowed to read  as a group from their own "scripts".   I must say the kids did a better reading than the Mayor's stiff delivery. 

After that, the "Ribbon Circle" shuffled around the room, allowing each sign holder to pause at the microphone to state what they did.    Awaiting my turn it struck me as funny  that half of the adults looked like big kids being made to recite in front of their parents and teachers.  Some ignored the microphone and gave a description that sounded as if it came out of a dictionary.  The police officer had to bend down so far to use the mike that the kids laughed and probably never heard a word he said.  The guy from the Fire Dept., obviously another last minute um.... "volunteer", stated his name, agency and said, "I  help people and put out fires for a living.  But please don't go home and start any."  The kids laughed before the adults, who acted as if this might be a subliminal challenge to the kids.

Me?  I laughed.  His delivery was hilarious. 

Never in my life did I ever think I'd end up as "the balance" to keep a ribbon line from injuring citizens of the community.  The problem was I found myself between 2 seniors citizens going at different speeds: the lady in "front" of me kept speeding up and pulling the ribbon  like I was a bad puppy on a leash.  The ribbon almost squealed with the tension.  The lady behind me, complete with cane, was shuffling at a leisurely southern pace and nothing would speed her up, even the woman behind her who kept saying, "It's time for us to move."  There I was, in the middle of the world's weirdest tug of war, trying to keep just the right amount of tension on the ribbon so the woman behind me wouldn't find herself being towed to the front of the room.

I didn't use the microphone.  For one thing, I'm use to speaking over the top of a room filled with children.  And I'm really too short to reach where they had it.   Especially while tethered to other people.  But these kids were quiet.  Okay, so they'd been bored a couple of times.  They became my only criteria.  Not make the Boss or my agency look good.  Make them remember what I said...without those expressions which read, "When's lunch?"

I shared and they began nodding in agreement.  After all, my agency is where you sign up to play those all American soccer.  [Yes, I know it's football to some of you...but "football" here is like a religion you don't mess with].  I added that we did other fun things through the year and named a few.  Their eyes widened.  Then I leaned toward the microphone, which suddenly amplified my stage whisper of, "Wanna know a secret?"    Their heads nodded like a sea of enthusiasm and some leaned forward, intent to be let in on something adults know.

"We don't just do fun things for you.  We have stuff for your Grandmas and Grandpas.  Because big kids like to have fun too.  So do me a favor and go home and tell them, okay?"   

As the kids nodded, smiling and laughing I heard the oddest sound.  The ADULTS were laughing too.  It was as if they needed to be reminded that they may lead and set examples, but they had once been a kid too.  Which is why you just talk TO kids, not down to them or at them.  Say the words...and they'll get it.

As we began to wind down, and the kids prepared to go back to class I saw the Boss's grandson nod at me with a smile.  "I know her," he said, sounding proud.

And that, my friends, is what makes a community grow.


savannah said...

Amen, sister! you're why i LOVE living here in the south, sugar! your community is fortunate to have you there. xoxoxoxox

Anonymous said...

Oh and trembling it was my friend LOL....your description of the two ladies was just priceless. My whole body would have been shaking by then LOL Too funny. What a hit you were. And just think next year you don't have to can sign up as you have the first one under your belt. Thanks for sharing this memorable occasion. :)

Warden Files said...

What a marvellous insight into your very busy, but so obviously happy life my dear. I found myself nodding in all the right places. You are correct about life being a dress rehearsal, quite possibly it turns out to be a pantomime too.

Jerry said...

It seems as though you were the star of an otherwise hokey affair. Great job.

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Rachel Fox said...

We find ourselves doing the oddest things! Nice tale.

Titus said...

Genius, hope! Sometimes I glimpse Harper Lee in you.

"I spared him one eye opener of a morning ritual."

"But between wondering how the hot water heater found out I'd been paid and the Vet's impending vacation plan via us,..."

"The only thing nice I've discovered about getting older is that you one day realize that most of life is handled like a dress rehearsal for a play that's never presented to a paying crowd."

Me? I laughed. His delivery was hilarious.
Never in my life did I ever think I'd end up as "the balance" to keep a ribbon line from injuring citizens of the community...
and all the rest of that paragraph.
And actually everything that comes after that paragraph.

You're good, girl. In so many ways.

Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

Thanks for Sharing this Hope, I hope your dogs are doing much better as well as your water heater. You have a gift with folks at any age.

G-Man said...

And now you know...
The Rest Of The Story!

Peggy said...

I hope your district knows how really lucky they are to have someone like you. You are truly woth your weight in Gold.

My computer crashed and I am trying to figure it all out myself.
My husband and I are going up to Chicago to see a play this weekend so I'll check back in next week.
I miss you my friend.