Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Projects

            “Mrs. Jones.  Look at the floats we made for our book projects!”

            Landon and Ramon stood in the door of my classroom.  At their feet were two shoeboxes decorated to look like floats.  In their hands, they each held remote controls.

            “Here it goes,” yelled Ramon.

            His thumb pushed on the controls.  Down on the floor one of the floats came to life and began scooting along the classroom floor.

            “Mine can catch yours,” laughed Landon.

            His shoebox shuddered a moment then slid off in pursuit of Ramon’s float.

            I stood watching the two miniature floats zip around my room, bumping into walls, backing up, moving forward, and flying under desks and chairs. Both floats had fringe stapled to the sides.  As the floats raced around the room, the fringe fluttered in the breeze.

            “That is so cool!” I said, walking over to one of the floats.  Landon’s float had small dinosaurs glued to the top of it.  I lifted the float up and saw underneath the box was a remote control car.  The decorated shoeboxes were sitting on top of the car.

            “I’ll bet I get an ‘A’ for my float,” shouted Landon.

            “Me too,” yelled Ramon.

            “Well I love them!” I gushed.  “I’m going to be sure and watch your presentations today.

            After lunch I slipped into Mrs. Mason’s classroom just as Landon was walking to the front of the room carrying his float.  The entire counter running down one side of the classroom was covered with decorated shoeboxes.  I spotted Ramon’s float sitting towards the end of the counter.

            Landon set his float on the table at the front.  Next to it he propped his book, All About Woolly Mammoths.  He held his book report in front of him, and began reading.

            I nodded my head as he read about the mammoth bones found in Siberia.  I smiled as he read about the food a mammoth eats.  I watched Mrs. Mason suppress a smile as Landon read that mammoths butt heads and make low growling sounds during mating season.

            “This is the float I made for my book,” Landon said, laying his report down and picking up his decorated shoebox.  One hand held the bottom of the box keeping the car concealed.  He set his float on the floor, and picked up the remote controls.

            “Now I’ll make my float go,” he said.

            All over the room kids craned to look at the float on the floor.  Students sitting from the middle to the back stood up so they could see.  Landon pressed on the controls, but his float sat perfectly still.  The room was quiet, and everyone could hear the low revving sound of a remote car, but his decorated shoebox didn’t so much as quiver.

            Landon set his controls down, bent over, and lifted the box off his car.  He turned the car over and spun each of the four wheels with his finger.  When he was satisfied that none of the wheels were jammed, he set the car back down and covered it with his float.

            Even though the secret behind his moving shoebox had been revealed, the class still waited, transfixed by the promise of a moving float.

            Landon picked up his controls again and began pressing buttons.  We all heard the soft revving sound again, but now we heard soft bumping sounds along with it.  All eyes were glued to Landon’s float at the front when suddenly a shoebox on the counter fell to the floor.  Ramon’s float, freed from the shoebox in front of it, shot down the counter and launched over the edge.

            Landon stared down at his controls.  He lifted his head and looked back at Ramon.  Ramon calmly stood up and walked forward carrying something in his right hand.  He walked over to the counter, picked up the two floats on the floor, and placed them back on the counter.  Then he walked over to Landon and the two traded remote controls.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013


            I sat in the padded chair oddly feeling like I was a student who was in trouble. 

            I had a meeting with the school counselor to set up schedules for next year, but her 9 o’clock meeting was running long. I sat in the outer office waiting for her door to open.  Even though the bell had rung and classes were now in session, a steady stream of people still moved in and out.  After five minutes, the stream fell to a trickle.

            From where I sat, I could see directly into the nurse’s office.  Landon didn’t even notice me as he came into the office and walked directly over to the nurse’s door.

            “I need some medicine.  My mouth hurts.”

            The nurse looked up from her desk.  “Do you have a sore throat?”

            “No, it’s my mouth.”

            “What about your mouth?”

            “My braces.  They hurt my mouth.”

            Landon was facing the nurse sitting at her desk, so I could see his profile.  He had a sad, sad look on his face, and his mouth hung slack, slightly open.

            “Are your braces irritating your gums?”

            Now Landon looked puzzled.  “No.  I just got them.  They’re tight.  They hurt my teeth.”

            The nurse stood and looked down at him.  “Do you want me to loosen them?”

            Landon dropped his mouth open and tilted his head up.  “Uh huh,” he said awkwardly looking up.

            What in the world?

            The nurse was smiling now, and sympathetically patted Landon’s head.

            “Sweetie, I can’t loosen them.  Your dentist wouldn’t like it.  But I can give you a Tylenol.”

            Landon’s face collapsed and he closed his mouth.  “OK,” he groaned.

            I watched the nurse get a Tylenol and a glass of water.  Landon tossed the pill in his mouth, drank the water, turned, and walked out.  I gave him my “S’up?” nod as he walked out.

            “Hi, Mrs. Jones,” Landon said sadly.  “My mouth hurts.”

            “Braces?” I asked.

            “Uh huh,” Landon moaned.  “They’re tight.”

            “Yeah,” I nodded sympathetically.  “That stinks.  See you.”

            I watched Landon go out and turned back to see the nurse standing in her door.  Her arms were folded and she was smiling.

            “Really?” I said.  “Loosen the braces?”

            Her shoulders were shaking now.  “I have to get my laughs where I can.”