“I hate Sunday school,” I muttered as we stood outside the portable classroom.
“It’s so not how I want to spend my Sunday,” Alison sighed.
“Why did they stick the grade three kids with us fours, anyway?”
“Yeah – what’s that about? Thirty kids in one class is, like, ten too many,” said Alison.
“Did you see the boys last week?” I protested.
“Tried not to.”
“Tell me about it. Tap dancing on the tables? Boys are crazy.”
“And those stupid paper planes - missed my eye by that much! I was so not impressed.”
“There was one funny thing,” I giggled.
“When Mrs Wade lost her voice. She sounded like a frog with laryngitis!”
Alison laughed, “Well, I guess we can thank the boys for that.”
“Jonah!” exclaimed Mike, who was standing next to Alison, “just...get...lost!”
I slapped my forehead for effect, “Oh no, here we go. Jonah’s on the war path again.”
“Actually, he’s using Mike’s head as a drum. Seems I was wrong - boys’ heads do have a use! Wanna bet Mike’s going to deck him again like last week?”
“Hey,” I said softly, “last week I overheard Mrs Wade arguing with Jonah’s mum. First about Jonah having no dad, then about ‘attention deaf a cent’ or something. Then Mrs Wade said, ‘ Have you tried medication?’ And then whamo! Jonah’s mum spat the dummy….”
“Okay kids, two straight lines,” boomed a strong male voice. “You have the count of three. One, two…”
In the space of a heartbeat, we arrayed ourselves into two lines.
“…three. Thank you - I’m Mr Lindsay. I am going to be your teacher for the rest of this year.”
“Where's Mrs Wade?” called Nick.
“Mrs Wade is taking the prep class. Now, please make your way quietly inside and take a seat on the floor.”
“He sounds a bit grumpy,” whispered Alison.
“Wasn’t he the prep teacher? Why did they swap?” I answered.
While we took our seats on the floor, Mr Lindsay sat on the edge of the table in front of us. The boys started to jostle. We girls began to chat.
But it was no use.
“Hands on heads!” thundered Mr Lindsay’s voice. We knew this routine too - we did it every day at school. “Hands behind backs! Hands on laps – and mouths closed.”
Glancing about I saw that everyone was sitting quietly, giving the teacher his or her full attention. Heck, it was just like being at school!
Mr Lindsay picked up a Bible. “One day, when Jesus and His disciples were near the Jordan River, a great crowd came to Him, and many sick people were…”
"Gotcha!" Jonah shrieked as he tackled Graham.
"Get off me, Jonah, you freak!" Graham shouted, lashing out with his fists.
Mr Lindsay jumped down from the desk and made his way to the fracas.
“Oh no!” I said to Alison, “should we warn him? Did you see the tantrum Jonah stacked on last week when Mrs Wade pulled him off Mike?”
“What about when he bolted outside after he kicked and punched her! That twenty minutes it took Mrs Wade and Jonah’s mum to catch him was so worth it.”
I watched Mr Lindsay reach the boys. To my surprise, he spoke softly and then reaching down gently picked up Jonah and sat him on his hip! He did not tell him off at all!
My Lindsay returned to the desk, sat Jonah on it, then sat beside the boy and put his arm around his shoulders. My mouth dropped open when Jonah snuggled against his chest, clearly content. He listened to the Bible story without moving once.
When the story was finished, Mr Lindsay held up two sheafs of work sheets. He pointed to me, “What's your name?”
“Please hand these to the girls, Lucy.”
Then he turned to Jonah and gave him the rest of the sheets. “Let’s give these to the boys, Jonah.”
The rest of the class was great. We did our work sheets, titled ‘Let the little children come to Me,’ had a question and answer time, and prayed. To finish off we played a few games of ‘Duck, Duck, Goose.’
Mr Lindsay kept Jonah beside him throughout the class, often getting the boy to help him, other times keeping a hand on his shoulder. They looked like an inseparable father and son.
“How was Sunday school today, Lucy?” My mum asked when she collected me.
“Mum, I love Sunday school.”
(Dramatisation of an actual event from 1993.)
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