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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)

TITLE: Hurry up Holidays
By Josiah Kane


**“Mary, your class treat's you like their jailer. Be friendly, but not lenient”**

Miss Mary walked through the door, and halted. Her jaw plummeted, making way for the audible gasp. She had only left the room for a few minutes, called by Mr. Smith, but for the moment she re-entered she believed in teleportation. The class had been restrained, if not sensible. As if on a different planet, the class was now as wild as a bear den attacked by bees. There were paper balls strewn across the floor. In one corner Romeo and Delilah were exchanging letters, each headed and signed with a big red heart. She stormed over and snatched the latest letter—it was a “solemn pledge to provide” for the other an assortment of Christmas presents.

**“Mary, children are children and they will play. How much you let them is up to you, but you must make sure they learn”**

Miss Mary could not take a breath for her chastisement before Jack threw a left hook at his partner, justice for some snide comment on their English. Even Ben, normally solemnly studious, had swivelled his chair and was chatting to the boy behind. Halfway between the fighter's and the talkers desks, Miss Mary was hit by a barrage of paper balls. She did not bother to read the messages within, but instead hurled them into the bin before stomping the mound flat. Again she turned to face her class, fire in her eyes and a long, supple pointer in her hand.

**“Pupils are like balloons, soft, malleable, but always resisting. And remember, balloons can pop.”**

She knew that the class was excited by the upcoming holidays—so was she. But she had a new job, and was not going to blow it the week before Christmas. These children would resist every effort she put into them, and in a moments laxity fling back. She was not willing to allow disorder, but they were writhing madly to be let loose. At last her will prevailed, and the class settled into a semblance of structure. They were normally a nice class, but as they sat, they looked upon her with the disdain of one betrayed. Mary didn't know whether it was because previous teachers were looser, or she had been easy and had suddenly stung them.

**“The teacher is there to serve the children, whether or not she feels like it. Never not care.”**

In reality she did not care why they suddenly despised her. She had them under control. She started to scream at them “You can play like that in the holidays. This is my class, and you will not mess round. Do you understand?” The kids were aghast. Half of the class broke down and started to cry before Miss Mary worked out what had happened. She choked back her anger, and tried to comfort them, but the damage was done. Ignoring what they had done the last time she left, Miss Mary rushed from the room to find the principal, to confess her error and ask for help.

**“Never fight a child through a display of power—it destroys their self esteem. If you are in the right, they will know it without a stick.”**

**“In spite of everything, everyone needs a break now and again. A playful class is actually a good thing, a rowdy class is not.”**

Miss Mary walked morosely into her house that evening. Like her class she could not wait for the Christmas holidays. The days events had proven beyond reasonable doubt that she, and they needed a break. They both needed time out of school, time to spend with friends and family, a time to rest, and a time to reflect. And, if the leader of Scripture Union had his way, a time to pray. She decided to do that, to pray for strength to turn the other cheek, and reach the Christmas holidays without strangling anyone!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Edmond Ng 11/03/08
Interesting way of putting across the message of a needed break, with a countdown to the day when time is set aside for friends and family, rest and reflection. All of us are not much different when it comes to the needed break. Counting down ...