Thank you all so much, for your prayers and kind words for Tate. He's much improved, has been back to school since Tuesday, and is quite well enough to go to work this evening. I wish I bounced back as quickly as he does!
Yes, the twinkle is back in his eye, and the humor in his voice. As part of homeschool, he's working through a Writing Strands book (some of you homeschoolers will be familiar with those.) Each week he's presented with a writing assignment, broken down into chunks he can divide over the week, though he usually does it all at once. The assignments are quite varied, and cover different aspects of the writing process (things like word choice, tenses, voice, fluency, vivid description, etc.) This week's assignment is about organization. The author gave an example of how he might describe a large jar of marbles. (Rather than detail each marble individually and uniquely, group them by color, size, etc.) So Tate was supposed to write a paper describing some sort of organizational technique. Doesn't that sound potentially very dry and dull? Not in the capable hands of Tate. This is what he presented to me this morning.
As I was sitting idly, by myself one day, I decided that it was time for me to do something helpful; to get up and make a difference by bringing about a small measure of order to this chaotic world. And so I did. I got up and crossed the room, headed towards my comfy bed. Then I knelt down and pulled out a tub of my old toy soldiers. This is how I’d change the world – by sorting my army men. But how?
They’re all the same color, and weigh the same, so how, you might vainly wonder, can I possibly sort them? Fortunately, I’m not you. I decided to sort them by shape or, more specifically, pose. I get to work quickly, after taking a donut break, and dump the box out onto my brother’s bed (I would have used my bed, but this project might take several days, and I need somewhere to sleep.) It only takes me a few moments to identify the soldiers’ basic poses, and mere seconds more to steal my brother’s pillow to sit on.
The soldiers are all about as tall as my pinky finger, except for the squatters, but we’ll talk about them later. The first soldiers I count are the grenadiers, who look like they’re either dancing or being shot. I’d pick the latter if I had to waddle around with my feet glued to a sizeable section of plywood like they do. Bad command decision. There are fifty of them, and 100 of the shooting-at-something-I-can’t-see-because-my-helmet-is-too-low types who have a hard time not falling over when you stand them up.
There are a whole boiling bunch of squatters who are hunched over or crouched down, trying desperately not to get shot by the enemy, or their own side for cowardice. I don’t count them, and toss them into the corner instead. They aren’t fit to be called soldiers.
Next are the sergeants, who are frozen in a pose that suggests they might be directing traffic, trying to flag down a cab, or just running around yelling their heads off and trying to figure out what’s going on, possibly all at once. I count about 75 of them before losing interest and moving on to the bazooka men.
They, out of all the others, seem the most dangerous, because, judging by how haphazardly they’re holding their weapons, they have absolutely no idea how to use them. I wouldn’t want to be caught at either end, or on either side, or anywhere near one of those things when their idiot handlers fired them. Once I’ve finished counting all 83 of them, there’s only one kind of soldier left to count. His name is Steve.
Steve stands tall, taller than he should in the middle of a warzone and, like most of us, wonders what his purpose in life is, since he clearly doesn’t find it on the battlefield, or possibly in this life. He holds his gun high above his head to let his enemies know exactly where he is, and has his legs spread apart so that he won’t be able to run effectively when they find him. I count 51 Steves, and while I can’t tell you how they’ve survived this long, I can guarantee that they won’t last much longer.
My parents were so pleased that I had done one of my chores (changed the world), that they gave me more, and a helping of jubilant sarcasm on the side as a bonus. My brother however, was tragically shortsighted in his imaginings, and accused me of “leaving a mess on his bed” and “using his pillow to mop the floor”. It’s hard work changing the world, but one day they’ll see how much my work has benefited humanity.