Project Advent II, Day 19: All Saints Chess Club



Here's what happened.  I sat down in my chair last night at about 9:00, ready to type this post.  I put my laptop on top of my lap, and promptly fell asleep before I even opened it.  I woke up six hours later with a crick in my neck and no blog entry written.  The blog elves did not come and cobble it together for me this time.

Anyway, yesterday was all about time spent with kids.  It was my final visit to the All Saints Chess Club for 2012.  I didn't get to see Blake this time.  Every Wednesday, a group of second graders from All Saints goes to the Ronald McDonald House to help out there and bake cookies for the guests, and yesterday was one of his days to go.  Still, there were about 10 kids who did come yesterday, so it was a pretty full house.

The children started coming in a few at a time.  Some set up boards while others just watched or visited.  A boy named Ryan asked if I would play with him.  A while back, I reached the decision that I wouldn't ever take it easy on these kids, mostly because I'm not good enough to take it easy on them.  Still, after a few opening moves, it seemed like Ryan may have been struggling, so I pulled back a little.  Kid hustled me.  I spent the rest of the game watching him mop my pieces off of the board.

But that's not the real story of yesterday.  The weathermen had all predicted severe winds yesterday, but it was still calm when I arrived at the school.  At about 12:30, though, one of the kids shouted "The storm is here!" and then you could literally hear the exact moment when the wall of wind and dust slammed into the side of the school.  I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that it felt like the building actually moved a little bit.  Besides Ryan, the rest of the kids just entirely lost interest in chess at that point, and went into full-on Crazytown mode.  I'm thinking that maybe in addition to other safety-related talks they've probably received at school this week, their teachers may have taken the chance to review severe weather safety, too, because this crowd was ready to dive into the bunkers.  I am not making this up: a few of them just started running laps around the library.  One of them kept poking his head outside before coming back in to report, "It's still so windy!"  Two boys took every book about weather that they could find off of the shelves, and started looking for information about dust storms.  Sorry about that, Mrs. Gretzler.  So, between moves with Ryan, who was getting increasingly impatient with waiting to beat me, I was making the rounds of the room, trying to introduce a little bit of calmness to things, assuring the children that everything was going to be OK, and not to listen to the first grader who insisted that a tornado was just outside.

It was quite an hour.

But the child-related chaos was not over, for, you see, last night was the children's Christmas Pageant at our church, and if you guessed that maybe one of my children did something to draw attention to themselves, well I just don't know what would have given you that idea.

Here are all three of them pre-show.  Ava was a sheep, and Blake and Jack were both shepherds.  Also, look at the adorable little girl behind Jack!  That's our friends Marcy and Clay's daughter Addison.
The program began, and it was really cute.  Different children read parts of the story and acted it out, and then they'd all sing.
My friend Charlie played "Away in a Manger" on his trumpet, and sounded fantastic!
Here's Blake about to read his part, which he did wonderfully.
And here's Ava, paying close attention to the signals that the director was giving them.  She had come straight from dance class, which is why she's wearing stripey tights and a leotard beneath her costume.

And here's Jack, who was front and center.
That look of concentration is him realizing that there is a microphone less than a foot away from his face.  Luckily, he hasn't reached the age yet where he'd think to commandeer that mike for himself and say things into it.  Instead, he decided to lean forward and rub the soft, spongy black microphone cover all up on his face, adding a nice rumble and screech of feedback to the program at random intervals.  I was laughing too hard to record it.  I only got this.
The very first words out of his mouth when we went to get him after the program: "Did you see me put my face on the thing, Daddy?"  He was so proud.  I was, too.  I mean, they're my kids.  Of course I'm proud.  But especially when one of them gets a laugh.

Affirmation Project: Heather Griffis, FUMC's children's minister, I really don't know how you do it.  I've watched you take control of a group of 30 kids, with nothing planned to do, and completely draw them into some game that you just made up on the spot.  You are so good at making something wonderful out of something disorderly, and you do a great job of making our children feel like a part of the church family.


Marcy and Clay said...

If you would have taken that picture of Jack 2 seconds later, instead of a picture of Addisoin, you would have gotten a picture of me stooped over chasing Addison...I think you got the better of the two! So glad to see you guys last night!

Ali said...

There is so much in this post that makes me smile: Jack's microphone face rub; the-sky-is-falling-1st-grader; you getting hustled by a elementary schooler in a game of chess. But, mostly, I'm left with the sense that you should write a letter of complaint to the blog elves' supervisor. I mean, you gave them SIX hours to get a post written for you. WTH, elves?

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