Our church is having its annual Vacation Bible School all this week, in the evenings. About a month ago, when my friend, Jodi, who is the VBS program director, was looking for as much volunteer help as she could possibly get, I took the sign-up sheet and checked the box by the statement, “I can do snacks.”
I thought that this meant we’d be passing out store-bought cookies to kids, but apparently there was some cooking involved. I actually had to smear strawberry jam onto 100 slices of white bread last night, until I was sticky enough to be the bait that draws the big ants in. Thankfully, I had a marvelous time (despite all the cooking I had to do with the knife and the jar of jam) hanging out with Christy and Carrie and Donna.
We laughed so hard, I snorted.
More than once even.
The unfortunate turn of events is that the church’s air conditioning unit was not set to ICEBERG in the kitchen. No, ma’am. It was a balmy 98 degrees outside, and a breezy 86 degrees inside.
I think this is where I interject the statement of fact that I DON’T REALLY ADORE TEMPERATURES THAT EXCEED 75 ANY MORE.
Jellying up 100 slices of bread in humid temperatures that are better suited to the plains of Africa left me suffering from a hot flash. I’d say that it was just… you know… all the HARD COOKING, that was reminiscent of a Thanksgiving dinner, and a faulty A/C, but the honest truth is, I think it has more to do with my OVER 40 NOW hormones. They’re conspiring against me to kill me dead from spontaneous combustion. I have no problem imagining myself heating up so fast these days, that my hair just catches fire on its own, exactly like I’d been filming a Pepsi commercial when a spark let loose.
I wasn’t alone, though. Carrie decided that YES and TRULY and INDEED, she was pre-menopausal, too, and isn’t that what every church wants in its kitchen? Not one, BUT TWO women who are dealing with the Wicked Witch of Estrogen and suffering a puddle of sweat in their Victoria’s Secret, size B? The two of us started shoving ice aside in the freezer, to make room for us to sit down and hug a frozen lasagna.
Of course, I would have STUCK to the freezer from all the jam coating my body, because I discovered that I do not jam up the bread in any manner that speaks of a finely bred Southern lady. I think I handled the knife and the Wonder Bread more like I was on an episode of Honey Boo Boo.
Bless my heart.
I came home at 8:30 last night, looking like a piglet at the fair. The Miss America look I’d achieved at 5:00 with the hot rollers had turned into sloppy strands of sweaty mane, and I smelled like a strawberry field.
Not to mention that anything I accidentally brushed up next to stuck to my clothing, in the jam.
I was a hot mess, people, so I showered and went to bed, knowing that I had really stepped out of my comfort zone to be a missionary, ministering to young children through jelly sandwiches.
(Not everyone who is called to the mission field is automatically sent to live in a grass hut in the jungle, where they eat boiled insects the size of American cats. Some of us endure hardships right here on our own soil, amidst the heat and the hormones and the Smucker’s.)
And then I had this lovely dream last night, where I found myself back in high school.
I blame the heated hormones.
We were taking a math final in my dream. The teacher passed out the tests, which were WORKBOOKS, PEOPLE! Workbooks! And those workbooks were the size of the Los Angeles telephone directory. I felt like I was prepared for the exam, and I flung that workbook open to Page One (of forty-six thousand pages), and I read through the first problem. I had to put numbers in order, from the lowest to the highest.
Piece. Of. Chocolate. Cake.
And then I looked at the list of fifty numbers, and they were not numbers common to mankind. One number was a lowercase a. It had a bar above the top of it, and an inverted V below it. I had no idea WHAT it was. One of my in-the-real-life BFFs from high school, Kristy, was sitting beside me. The honest truth was that Kristy was brilliant in math back in the late ’80s, and she was brilliant in my dream last night. I leaned over to her and whispered, “What in the world is this little a with the funky signs above and below it?”
Kristy said, “Don’t you remember? Didn’t you take notes?”
People! I’m a note-taker. And somehow, I had missed the lecture about what kind of number is this one?
Kristy whispered, “That’s a vaporizing number. With the inverted V below it, it will vaporize, so you don’t even have to list it. It’s just gone, and it won’t make the list, because it won’t be there any more. You don’t have to list it as the lowest number, because it’s… well… vaporized.”
Of course. Real numbers. Negative numbers. Integers. Vaporizing numbers. It’s all coming back to me now.
I turned the page in my workbook and realized that I didn’t know anything on it, either.
In fact, I couldn’t successfully answer a single problem in the entire workbook, which was my FINAL EXAM! So… I began ripping pages out. Kristy hissed at me, “WHAT are you doing?” I told her the truth. I said, “This workbook is so huge, the teacher isn’t even going to notice if a few pages are missing. I’m ripping out the pages I don’t understand.”
Which basically left me with no pages that could even be graded.
I remember being very scared, while I watched Kristy scribble and write all over her workbook, solving problems and smiling in satisfaction over each one.
She was going to ace it.
And then… we got our report cards. I had two Cs on mine.
(People, I never got a C in high school. Ever. While Hubs was out floating on a tube in the reservoir and drinking cheap wine out of the disguise of a soda can, I was in the library, studying. While Hubs was calm and relaxed for his math final, because HOW WILL THIS ONE TEST GRADE CAUSE ME TO MISS OUT ON ANYTHING SIGNIFICANT IN LIFE?, I was wishing I had a Benadryl to take the hives away, as I was busy fretting over WHAT IF I DON’T GET AT LEAST A 98% ON THIS AND NO ONE HIRES ME RIGHT OUT OF COLLEGE BECAUSE MY GPA WASN’T A STELLAR 4.0?)
One of the Cs in my dream last night was in this math class, and the teacher had written, “She seemed unprepared for her final exam.”
Unprepared for the final exam? I think I was taking the final in a class I wasn’t actually registered for, as well as for one I never attended.
The other C was in PE.
You know… Physical Education? Like… what I teach in real life?
I went to my PE teacher’s office in my dream, and I said, “How on earth did I get a C in PE?” He told me, “Well, you never turned in a single written assignment.” I kept arguing with him that I didn’t even know there were written assignments, and what kind of PE teacher assigns written homework? I told him I’d been present every day, and I’d made homeruns in kickball (Yes. I actually told him this, because it’s always good to announce your strengths.), and I had never heard him say we had homework to do, and why hadn’t I ever seen one of the photocopied worksheets he said he passed out every day, all year long?
I was so angry, I couldn’t see straight.
And then I woke up.
And do y’all know what? It took me a good ten minutes to even calm back down after this dream was finished, because, even while I was awake, I was furious about vaporizing numbers and homework that I had no idea about in gym class.
Yes. It’s hard being me. Why do you ask?
In completely unrelated news (because changing topics as fast as a hockey player can spit is how I roll), the boy and I took Thing 2 to the park this morning. He LOVES the park, and we’ve learned that physical exercise wears him out a bit, so that he doesn’t climb to the top of our refrigerator at home with his need to just MOVE IT, MOVE IT.
And I love this next picture, because just look at the boy! It was 65 degrees outside this morning, and he was FREEZING. He wanted a sweatshirt. He wanted to know why I’d hauled him to the park on a day that felt like winter. He’s the only human being I know who could live in Southern Texas in July and say, “It’s not really THAT warm down here.”
I persevered under the trial of 86 degrees in a kitchen last night. I was covered in jam and doing my level best to cook all those jelly sandwiches, while I snorted like a congested gorilla in hysterical laughter; Christy and Carrie have that affect on me. And today, God crowned me with 65 degrees, with a light wind. It was glorious.
Of course, I stopped and thanked Him for that.
And I thanked Him for all the little kids who are at our VBS this week, learning about the love He has for them, while they eat my homemade jam sandwiches.