Everybody is milling around. There had been a bit of a “social” before where there were pastries and coffee and other sundry drinks, and even though everyone was in the appointed place, no-one seemed quite ready to sit down.
We have already been in the room for a bit. A number of chairs had been laid claim to already, “tagged” as it were with various purses and jackets. The room was one of those small church auditorium types: seating for something like 50 and a small stage toward the front. There were between 25-30 of us here now — even a couple of guys, which was a little bit surprising. Small talk was being made in various areas of the room, but it was evident that the crowd was beginning to get restless.
A lady walked over, not to me exactly, but close enough that I felt it warranted a friendly “hello”. She replied in kind. A man near the middle of the room was starting to grouse loudly over the wait he was having to endure. It was easy to identify his wife, as she was the one shrinking in an effort not to be seen.
We were all here for the same thing. Tonight, a talk was to be given for new homeschoolers. Supposedly, the presenter was a “been-there-done-that” person who had a great reputation for giving fantastic talks and tips to those of us new to this journey.
I glanced back at the lady who was holding an empty coffee cup and asked if she thought the speaker would show up soon.
She smiled ever so slightly and just simply said, “I’m sure of it.” Then, she pardoned herself and made her way out of the auditorium, I presumed to the use the restroom which I had already scoped out on the other side of those doors.
As she was leaving, I heard the loud man say, “That lady has the right idea. We shouldn’t just stand here waiting for this chick to show up when it’s already been almost 15 minutes.”
It hadn’t been quite ten minutes, but I could see a mass exodus brewing.
There was suddenly a flurry of activity by the auditorium doors. A lady burst through with a large bag, an over-large flannel shirt, and one of those little knit caps that you could stuff all your hair into.
The lady appeared overwhelmed and overburdened, apologizing profusely for being so late. Excuses were pouring out of her mouth so fast that I wasn’t quite sure I could make any of them out.
Most of those congregated were like me, mouth hanging agape at this sudden entrance. We watched in stunned silence as this woman made her way to the front of the room and then onto the stage, still excusing herself profusely.
This is the person we came to listen to???!
The girl had gotten quiet and was now bent over her bag peering intently within. Then, the lights suddenly dimmed.
Up on the stage, the person had resumed a standing position and simultaneously a projected image of a slide showed on the screen behind her.
“Ladies and Gentleman: Please forgive my seemingly late entrance. I do apologize profusely for it, but it seemed the most poignant demonstration that I could give for our topic of discussion tonight. It will please you to note that the delay was actually scheduled into this talk and you will not be held over any amount of time because of it.”
“Now, if you all will kindly take your seats, I will be delighted to start our class series with a discussion on,” she moved to the side of the stage, “preparation.”
And, indeed, that is exactly what the slide said.
As I took my seat I watched as the “shrinking lady” grabbed her grouchy husband’s sleeve and yanked him into the seat next to hers. Yet, my attention was drawn back to the stage, to the girl standing there. The woman had shed her over-sized flannel shirt and her knit cap, and had suddenly transformed herself into the well-dressed lady that I had spoken to just moments before. She had been here the whole time!
“I needed a way,” she began again, “to drive the point home of the importance of being prepared. Frequently, as homeschoolers, our days go all screwy right at the start, and it’s almost always due to lack of preparation.”
“It’s an easy thing to do; mess up this delicate balance of home and school and LIFE. You forget a doctor’s appointment, or over-schedule activities, or forget that you need to cut, glue and assemble manipulatives for math. A single forgotten thing can send you into a downward spiral for the remainder of the day. Worse, this pattern could continue for many days.”
“You could lose control of your day simply by not starting on time. If your kids are expecting you to start at a certain time, and you get delayed, then they will start getting impatient, cranky, and even argumentative.”
I tried hard not to look in the direction of Mr. Grump.
“Then, your day winds up being shot, because you spend so much of it trying to reign in the attitudes of your youngsters.”
“This is the topic of our series. We will talk about what it is to be prepared, and keep in mind this will be different for everyone. Priorities, and how to determine what they are for you, will be discussed. Tips and tactics will also be mentioned to keep you from losing control.”
“Hopefully, I will even have some anecdotes to share and demonstrations to help make the classes more enjoyable and rewarding.”
The lady paused for a moment, a soft smile on her lips, and I settled into my chair pulling out my notebook and pen. This long-time homeschooler spoke with a simple surety that made me feel positive that I would be able to take on this new role as “homeschooler”. I noticed even Mr. Grump seemed to relax some and his wife was giving her undivided attention to the speaker. I was once again excited to be able to attend this seminar.
I want to be like that lady on the stage. Given that I made her up and completely wrote this story as fiction, this will probably be the closest I come.