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Volume 18, Issue 3: Virga

Planting Seeds

Matt Whitling

Now, she's going to need orange juice every morning with breakfast—real juice. We don't tolerate artificial juices made with high-fructose corn syrup. And I've packed her vitamins in this color-coded handi-dispenser. Make sure that she takes two of these brown cod-liver ones each morning, and don't let her pretend to take them and then spit them out—the capsules need to thoroughly dissolve on the tongue before swallowing—be sure to make her open her mouth so that you can check. This larger grey multi is to be taken right after lunch on a full stomach. Please see to it that she does not eat in a room that has a microwave oven in use, we are not at all in favor of first- or second-hand food service radiation passing through our children. I presume that the campers will be required to brush their teeth before and after each meal? We have packed special flouride rinse that is to be swished around and through the teeth after each brushing. Amanda is not allowed to swallow any of this rinse; in fact she must completely rinse the rinse out with filtered water. Our family is not in favor of gargling, and all the children know how to rinse quietly and diligently. And one more thing—do you have any idea how old the . . .

I'll have you know, Coach Rod, that we are very nervous about Todd playing baseball this year. You see, my father-in-law back in Missouri had asthma as a child and we are concerned that one of our children may develop a similar condition. No, Todd has not shown any early warning signs yet, but we are nonetheless on the alert and quite cautious. Mr. Rod, have you received training in CPR? Recently? Have you done course work in exercise physiology so that you know how to exercise your players without straining their muscles and connective tissue? Torn ligaments are becoming a common occurrence in sport, and we would hate to jeopardize our son's future for the sake of a silly game. By the way, Todd has been fighting a rash on the back of his left knee on and off for approximately 34 days now. I'm not sure that he is up for any intense conditioning, at least not this week. If he's not feeling well, then of course, let him rest in the shade and get him plenty of fluids. Are you sure that you can keep your players hydrated in this warm weather? I'm concerned that if Todd were to overexert himself out there in the hot sun he may . . .
Hello? Principal Hartfowl . . . yes this is Sissy Jupe's mother, Jackie. I was calling regarding the awards assembly that the school has scheduled for this Friday. I would like to know if my daughter will be receiving an award at that assembly? Yes, Cecilia Jupe, in third grade, she's my daughter . . . Yes, hello? You see, our family has an issue with awards, and if my daughter is not going to be given an award at that assembly, or recognized in some tangible and affirming way, then I don't see why she should be required to attend. Just think about the damage that will be done to all of those hard-working students who have to sit through that assembly hoping and dreaming that just this once, it will be their turn to walk across that stage and receive a ribbon? Do you realize the message that you are sending by handing out ribbons to only a few of the students in each grade? You and your teachers come across, unintentionally I'm sure, as though you are judging the students and rewarding those who were somehow "better" than the rest. There are young budding self-esteems at risk here. Principal Hartfowl, hello . . . sir, are you there?
Well, Mrs. Thompson, I'm sure that you can understand our problem with the school's discipline policy. We are definitely in favor of high moral standards, but our central concern is with the lack of grace that we sense in the language, especially regarding corporal punishment. Tell me, where does this obsession with Law come from? My wife and I are New Testament Christians, and I'm wondering how you plan to show my twelve-year-old son even a little bit of grace in the midst of these rules and policies? I realize that you think he has cheated on the history exam, and yes I'll talk to him about those things that you say you saw written on his hand, but it's the principle of it all that bothers me. My son is no cheater. He has his weaknesses, certainly, but cheating is not one of them. I know his heart, and he just isn't the kind of kid that would cheat—it's not in his nature. Have you considered the possibility that you may not have fully understood the context of what took place this afternoon in your classroom? Well, no, of course I wasn't there, but I know my son. This reminds me of the dress-code discussion that we had just last week. As a school board member, I can tell you that not everyone on the board was in favor of the new uniform guidelines for 7th grade. It's not the uniforms themselves that are the problem; it's the principle of law verses grace. Why is it that you people cannot understand such a simple and foundational concept? The gall of some people, thinking that it is their job to go around dictating what other people's children wear to school. Legislating, lawmaking, that's what it is, no grace just more rules, more law. If you think that my son is going to have a blazer on every Friday at school next year, then you've got . . .
Most apples fall in the shade.

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