Janet's Jargon

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Just "Kidding" Around

Quite a few years ago, when I was in my thirties, I took a high school girl out to buy a prom dress for her. We were having a blast. All of a sudden, she got real serious and she asked me, "Do you think you will ever grow up?" I thought for a minute or two, then replied, "I sure hope not." I don't see any point in it. Let other people be adults.

A couple of days ago, when I was calling bookstores about my books, I called a small independent bookstore on the Iron Range in Minnesota. We got to chatting, and I told her I had taught Vacation Bible School in the late 50s in many of the Iron Range churches and small towns. I was working with the American Sunday School Union. She said that she had attended one of those VBS's in a Methodist Church in Nashwauk. She asked me if my name had been Janet Hallett, and I said that was indeed me. She was one of the kids in that VBS. As we talked, we both remembered the same thing that had happened. There was a little boy (I don't recall his name, which is probably just as well) who was the son of one of the deacons of the church.
Since it was the week of Father's Day, the kids were all supposed to find a smallish flat rock, write a Bible verse on it with a marker, then shellac it for a paper weight. Each child was to present the gift to their father at the final program on Friday evening and read the verse on it in front of the group.
Well, that little boy did as he was told. I could hardly contain my laughter when I looked at his rock and he had written on it, in big bold letters, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
I was just a teenager myself, and I wasn't comfortable with explaining to him what the word "adultery" meant. I tried my best to convince him to choose a different verse, but he refused. Finally, I asked him why he chose that verse. He explained, in a very rational way to him, that his father always said he never wanted to grow up, so that was the perfect verse for him. "He will never commit adultery. He doesn't want to become an adult."
At the program, he proudly presented the gift to his father, and I asked him to explain why he had chosen that verse, which he did. I doubt that that church has ever had more laughter--before or since!

I love interacting with kids. I have a good friend, Joyce, and her 12-year-old son Shane has a page on her blog. You can find it at http://kaleidosouls.info/KaleidoKid.html. I have gotten acquainted with Shane, and he is a real charmer. I was delighted when one day he sent me a copy of his first experience airbrushing. Yes, that is the picture at the top of today's blog. I love colors, and geometric designs fascinate me, so thank you, Shane, for your wonderful gift to me. I am delighted to share it with the rest of you.

I have one young adult book out. It is My Dear Phebe. It is based on the real letters that were exchanged between 10-year-old Phebe Irvine and her uncle. Phebe lived in Sault Ste. Marie, MI during the Civil War. Her uncle lived near Gettysburg, PA. Many teachers have been using this book in their classes, not just to teach about the Civil War, but also to get kids to open up and share their feelings of frustration and fear over all the "junk" that is going on in today's world. Kids then were scared of the same thing the kids of today are scared of.
This is a very special book to me. Phebe Irvine was my great-grandfather William Henry Hallett's mother-in-law (by his second wife, who was not my great-grandmother). The actual content of the letters, misspellings and all, are at the back of the book.
I have done quite a few online chats with entire classes after they have read My Dear Phebe. If any of you are teachers or have kids in school and they read the book, I'm available. Just email me at janetelainesmith@yahoo.com

So, to all the kids who might stumble across my blog, my hat is off to you. And no matter what they tell you, don't be afraid to hang onto that childlike mind you have. Even Jesus recognized the value of that when He said "Blessed are the children," and "Let the children come onto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." If by the word "adultery" you mean "not becoming an adult," then by all means, go for it! If you look it up in the dictionary, just ignore it. Sometimes even Noah Webster made mistakes!