Here I sit, on the couch, with my laptop, too tired to do very much. Why, at 2 pm, should I be this tired? Ridiculous. But let me explain…
I was up at 6 this morning so as to leave the house by 8:40 to drive out in the country to the big historic home where I give tours. Two busloads of third graders would be arriving at 9:30 for a total of three tours through the house, all of which I would do.
Upon arriving early so as to note some changes that had been made in the layout of the house, I find the busses have arrived and the students are waiting. There would only be two tour groups as the others would be coming on Thursday when another retired educator would have the job of showing them through the house.
The first group of 25 students was terrific. Well behaved. Good questions. The teacher had excellent control of the group. We had lots of fun for that hour before I handed them off to the gift shop manager and then dashed back through the house to make ready for group two who was waiting for me at the bottom of the steps to the porch.
This group was chatty. They had questions before they even got into the house. I had to give specific directions that I would have expected the teacher to make. Once inside the house, the students had trouble being quiet. I don’t talk while they talk. So I waited. This happened over and over, throughout the tour. I would talk, they would talk. I would stop and stand, silent until they became silent. I would start talking, they would start talking. The questions they asked were not particularly smart ones. One little girl would raise her hand as soon as I asked for questions only to tell me a story of her own instead of asking a question. My nerves began to fray.
I had carefully explained how Mr. Kearney died, how his ashes were returned to Fresno, and where they were stored along with the inscription on the box. In the very next room a girl asked about how he died and where was he buried. Even some of her friends seemed surprised at the question. When I checked to make sure that the students had heard my story, one little boy could recite the engraving on the box of ashes as well as the name of the mausoleum where they are stored. Okay, at least someone was listening.
I have the students line up, single file, before we proceed back downstairs. This may take awhile as they are leaving one room, checking the builtin telephone on their right and noting the stairs to the attic on their left. Lots of interesting features along with lining up. The little girl at the head of the line was practically standing on my toes as we waited for the line to form. She then says, “you need some lip balm, your lips are chapped and cracked.” Yep, that’s how close she was to me. When we got back downstairs another boy was right under my feet, so close that I stepped on him as I turned to open a door. I apologized for stepping on him, but instead of moving, he replied that he was okay.
Finally it was this group’s turn to go to the gift shop. All of them had brought lots of money (it’s a wealthy school, unlike where I taught all those years and the one where I now volunteer) to spend and kept telling me they couldn’t wait to get to the gift shop.
After those two tours and a drive back into town, I made a stop on the way home to pick up 96 teddy bears which I will give to each first grader next week after reading the story, “The Teddy Bear.” I know they will be thrilled with the small stuffed bear that they can take home for their own. Each school chaplain will have a bear for each first grader, about 3,000 bears this year. I need to sort mine into four class sets, but for now, I’m sitting on the couch, too tired to do much.