Thursday, November 22, 2001

Tales from the Front Pew, Chapter 4

It's been seven years now since we sat in the hospital for ten days with David when he was sick with spinal meningitis. As I recall, Thansgiving that year wasn't real thankful. But we have gotten many reminders over the years of how thankful we should be. The latest of those came, appropriately enough, on Thanksgiving day.

Deb and the boys were sitting in our usual spot, fourth row from the front in church; I was running the sound board in the back. From my vantage in the back, I could see that there was a good sized crowd here today. After the initial set of singing, Pastor Paul got up. "Happy Easter," he proclaimed. There was a tittering in the audience. "Happy Thanksgiving!" he corrected. After some more introduction, Pastor Doug got up. "You know," he began, "Pastor Paul was right. In a way, we do celebrate Easter today."

At this point a voice rang out clearly from the front of church. "It's Thanksgiving!" yelled David. The entire congregation roared. "Well," said Pastor Doug after a pause. "I guess that about says it all."

Seven years ago at this time, we were not sure what our son would be able to hear, if anything. This was a reminder that he not only hears, but understands what is going on. It just would be nice if those reminders came in other ways. My eight-year-old arguing with the senior pastor in the front of a packed church would not be my first choice.

We just had conferences for the kids at their school. One of the things that came up was that David's grammar was not as good as it could be. We were not surprised. After all, why put a period at the end of a sentence, or capitalize words at all? It doesn't change the meaning of a sentence, and it's just extra work. David doesn't like extra work. He knows the stuff, however. His teacher told us that he is the first to correct her grammar in class. One of the ways that Mrs. VanVugt tried to interest David in doing some better work was to let him do some of his grammar work on the computer. Correcting sentences like: peggy ate three candy bars She and the student teacher were talking over this with Deb last week when the student teacher began to giggle. She was looking over David's work on the computer and came across the above sentence. David corrected the grammar and then typed "what a pig" after it.

David was handed a paper in science class the other day. He asked the teacher, "Is this a test?"

"Yes," said Mrs. VanVugt.

"Well," responded David, "I better concentrate harder on this one then." David only concentrates on what's important. All the other stuff like everyday assignments and penmanship are not important. If it were his choice, he wouldn't do them at all.

I played tour guide the other day. Joshua asked me a while back if his ACT class could take a tour of Gentex as part of their studies on companies and think tanks. I agreed to this and set up a tour for the 20th. Three days before the tour, a company-wide email was circulated from the head of facilities saying that children were not allowed in the manufacturing areas. And I was planning on taking 18 fifth graders through the manufacturing areas. I did manage to clear it with one of the VP's and the tour went on as planned. My co-worker, Hal, and I split the group in half and each took a group around the plant. We had to stroll around the plant ourselves the day before because we don't often go to this particular building. So it was an education for us also.

Most kids would be fascinated by all the stuff they saw, but this group of naturally technically curious kids were oogle-eyed. A group of four of them spent several minutes analyzing a circuit board routing machine, trying to figure out how it worked. One of the workers in the circuit board assembly area gave a few of the kids some of the parts that were being put on the boards, parts only a little bigger than a grain of sand. It was rather funny watching them try to pass it around, especially when one of them dropped one on the carpeted floor of the conference room a little while later. We had lots of questions, but a few enterprising souls were repeatedly asking, "What do you do with the failed mirrors?" I finally reached into my box and pulled out one of my demo pieces, a piece of mirror glass with a circuit board attached to it. "Tell you what," I said. "I'll give this to Mrs. Gabriels [the teacher], and you can have it in your classroom to look at."

Mrs. Gabriels emailed me the next day saying a couple of her students were showing their friends from school the mirror that they have in their classroom. It must have made an impression.