Chapter 9 1993 - Ordinary World

I looked back on the past several years and noted that despite his former world-wide fame, he was becoming an ordinary citizen, living in an ordinary world. His day to day activities included meals with the family, playtime with his young children: Chrissy, his oldest daughter, now eight, and the twins, Tyler and Merry, now three. Chrissy was enjoying her time in school as a second grade student, but intensely disliked her teacher, Miss Tree. Miss Tree was adored by all of her other students, but Chrissy had had an “incident” with Miss Tree that colored her opinion of the popular teacher. Chrissy had brought a dot-to-dot book, given to her for her birthday, to class to play with during recess break. Miss Tree noticed her connecting the dots, and thought that maybe some of the other children might like to share as well. Miss Tree asked if she could “borrow” the book to make games from it for some of the other children. Chrissy hesitated, but reluctantly gave up the book to her teacher. Miss Tree set it aside and the day went on without the activity Chrissy had planned for herself. By the end of the week, it was apparent that Miss Tree had forgotten about the activity and when Chrissy asked to have her book back, Miss Tree indicated that she had returned it, leaving it on her desk for Chrissy to pick up. The book was never returned to Chrissy, and her birthday gift was lost. Miss Tree was at fault, and Chrissy was not about to forgive her.

When it came to assignments and homework, Chrissy “conveniently” forgot to pick them up, and although she failed to use the classic “my dog ate my homework excuse” it was clear she was not doing it. Miss Tree contacted I and Angela by telephone. Angela picked up on the second ring.

“Mrs. Mall? This is Miss Tree, Chrissy’s teacher at the school. We have a problem.”

Angela’s face flushed, and her heartbeat began to rise, fearful for her daughter’s well-being. “What is it?” she asked in a panic.

“Oh, no,” Miss Tree responded, “there’s no problem with Chrissy herself, she’s fine. “ Angela was relieved, but still concerned.

“I’m glad to hear it, but why have you called?” Angela asked.

“Well,” Miss Tree continued, “Chrissy is not turning in her homework, and I’m afraid her grade report is not going to be favorable if that continues.”

Angela was perplexed, “I don’t understand, I work with her on her homework almost every night. We’ve gone through her math book almost from cover to cover. She’s very diligent.”

It was Miss Tree’s turned to be puzzled, “The fact is, she hasn’t turned in a homework assignment for three weeks. Do you ever see any of the worksheets I send home with her?”

“No,” Angela admitted. “We only work out of the book. I’d say we haven’t seen an assignment sheet for about three weeks. Hmm. That’s curious.”

“That would explain the lack of turned in assignments. I’d like to meet with you, Chrissy and your husband to try to get to the bottom of this.” They worked out an appointment for the following day after school.

On hanging up, Angela called Chrissy into the room. “I just spoke with Miss Tree, and she says you’re not turning in your homework. I know we work together on it, so what is happening to it?”

“I throw it away. I don’t want to give it to her, because she’s mean. I hate her!” Chrissy’s eyes began to well up with tears.

“Mean? I’ve only heard good things about Miss Tree. What has she done?” Angela was a bit concerned.

“She steals my stuff, and doesn’t give it back!” Chrissy was now in full tears mode.

“‘Steals your stuff’?” Angela prompted, “What do you mean?”

“My dot-to-to book that I got for my birthday. She stole it and won’t give it back. I miss it.” Chrissy sniffed.

“I’m sure she didn’t steal it,” Angela suggested. “We will talk to her about it tomorrow. She wants to see us after school.”

“I don’t want to see her after school. I’m going to get in trouble.“ Chrissy began to cry again.

“You’re not going to get into trouble,” I tried to calm her down. “We will find out the real problem.”

The next day, Angela and I met with Miss Tree after school. Angel explained about the dot-to-dot book.

Miss Tree responded, ”Yes, Chrissy loaned me her book, but I returned it to her. I left it on her desk about three week’s ago.” Miss Tree paused. “Oh, no, I hadn’t ‘connected the dots’,“ she paused to giggle. “Chrissy’s book and her homework are obviously tied together.”

She turned to Chrissy, “Is that what this is all about. Is there a problem with your book?”

Chrissy replied, accusingly, “You stole it! My book. You stole!”

Miss Tree defended herself, “I didn’t steal your book, Chrissy. I returned it on your desk after school one day. You should have picked it up the next day.”

“It wasn’t there,” Chrissy accused. “It wasn’t there.”

“Then I’m afraid that someone else may have picked it up,” Miss Tree suggested. Maybe the school custodian knows something about it. She would have cleaned the room that night. How about I check with her, and we’ll get to the bottom of this mystery.”

Chrissy sniffed, and replied with a simple “‘K”.

The next day, Miss Tree spoke with the custodian before class began. “Emma, do you recall, about three weeks ago, seeing a dot-to-dot book in the classroom?”

Emma responded, “Yes, ma’am, I found one on the floor. I picked it up and put it on the shelf over there,” indicating the bookshelf against the wall. “I thought that maybe one of the students dropped it, so I put it in a safe place until it could be returned. I forgot about it and didn’t let you know what had happened.” Emma walked over to the shelf and picked it up, hidden in plain sight. “See, here it is!”

Miss Tree was tottering between anger and relief, and opted to go the relief route. “Thank you, Emma, you’ve solved a big mystery, and maybe even saved a little girls’ academic career in the process.”

Seeing Emma’s puzzled expression, Miss Tree explained how Chrissy had been neglecting her homework, and how she was failing in the class. The return of the dot-to-dot book would certainly help to set her back on the correct path.

When Chrissy arrived, Miss Tree called her up to the desk. Chrissy, a bit wary, approached it with some trepidation. When Miss Tree revealed the lost dot-to-dot book, Chrissy’s eyes lit up. “You found it!” she exclaimed. The other students arriving looked up to see what the ruckus was, and Miss Tree asked Chrissy to calm down a bit, as she handed her the book. “Best to take that home today, so that it doesn’t get lost again.” She suggested.

“Miss Tree,” Chrissy exclaimed, “You’re the best teacher ever!”

Chrissy’s behavior in class returned to that of a model student and her grades began to improve. Because of the misunderstanding, Miss Tree only required her to make up half of the required work assigned during the past three weeks. Both I and Angela worked with Chrissy to complete her assignments, and I gave her little quizzes to make sure she understood the material.

I spoke with Chrissy about the incident and misunderstanding. “If something like this happens to you again, I hope you come to us to tell us,” he explained. “We were able to solve the problem in time, before it became a bigger issue. It’s never a good idea to throw away your homework, and with the effort you put into it, you don’t want to be wasting your time.”

Chrissy, seemingly wise beyond her years, agreed.

I sat down with Angela after dinner that night. “We survived our first ‘school crisis’, though I don’t it’s going to be our last,” he said. “By the time the twins are in school, I can imagine all sorts of problems with them as well. At least, since they are a boy and a girl, they won’t be able to pull the classic switcheroo and attend each other’s classes,” I mused, “but I can see them getting into some kind of trouble if they choose to gang up and create mischief together.” I laughed quietly.

“Yes, of that I’m sure,” Angela agreed. “But we’ve got a few years ahead before we have to worry about them. But come to think of it, now that they are in pre-school, how do we know they aren’t already scheming?” Angela laughed out loud as well.

“Can you imagine them in their teens?” I wondered aloud. “They are going to be a real handful, then. And when they start dating, we’re going to have to deal with twice as many issues as we do now. It’s going to be some interesting times!”

“Oh, I just imagine what it will be like for them as they go to their prom,” Angela said. “What’ll that be, 2008? 2009? I just imagine that by then, maybe they won’t even have proms. The world is really going to change. People will be living on the moon, we’ll have flying cars. Maybe the kids will attend school on Mars, for all we know. A lot can happen in fifteen years, I would think.”

“I’m going to try to not imagine them in outer space,” I mused. “I really don’t think things are going to advance that quickly. Look at what we’ve got today, our TV is going to be a central part of our way to communicate with people all over. The cable TV system is going to bring us all closer together, you just wait and see.”

I and Angela lived in an ordinary world, but their dreams for an extraordinary future were as big as ever.