There are few things my grandsons enjoy more than hearing a story. Yes, they certainly love matchbox cars, swimming in our pool, playing hide and seek, any activity involving a ball, and popsicles.
Although they will eventually grow weary of the other options (well…maybe not the popsicles!), they will never turn down the opportunity to hear a story told by their grandfather. My simple offer of, “Hey, you want Pops to tell you a story?” is greeted with an immediate and enthusiastic “YES!” 100% of the time. And just one or two stories will never suffice.
As we snuggle close in the nearest comfy chair, I quickly search my mind’s hard drive as Bryce and Connor wait with wide-eyed anticipation. Sometimes I’ll even give them the option of story genre – scary, funny, suspenseful or silly. Interestingly, even though I’d always prefer a made-up story, they usually want it to be “real.”
Not a problem, as my mind can easily create what I call “significantly embellished reality.”
Days At Dixieland
Most of my stories seem to have a connection to my elementary school, Dixieland, right down the street from LCS. They also love hearing about escapades with my friends, namely Jack, Robert, David, Dale and Norman. By the way, these names have not been changed…they’re actual people and several are still close friends.
The little boys will often ask for “Jack” stories. Jack was my childhood best friend, since Kindergarten. I grew up on Maxwell Street and he lived just around the corner on Cherokee Trail. I tasted my first boiled peanut in Jack’s kitchen and built my first Lincoln Log structure in his family room. And we watched the Tigers beat the Cards in the ’68 World Series, right there on his new console television.
Like so many boys, we invented tons of games involving a baseball, basketball and football. Sorry, soccer, you were unknown to us in 1960’s Lakeland. Jack and I were both born with competitive streaks, which would often lead to arguments. For some reason, the grandkids love this part of the story. There must be something to that familiar pattern of conflict-climax-resolution.
Not All Stories Have Happy Endings
For instance, they want to hear about some of my least-proud moments – like when I angrily chased Jack with a blow torch…or when I threw chunks of metal at him. I promise, we really were close, inseparable friends.
And then there was Dale. One day while walking home from school, he kicked a fire ant bed all over me. Another morning before school he pushed me down on the front sidewalk and our third grade teacher made him “doctor up” my skinned knees. Not exactly what I wanted at the time… By the way, Dale ended up being a very “memorable” Senior Class President at Lakeland High School.
They love hearing about the annual Dixieland fall carnival, held over at Dobbins Park. I tell them about swinging a sledgehammer into an old car – which I’m sure sounds fun but unimaginable to them. I’ve explained about bobbing for apples and described a cakewalk. But mostly, they want to hear about how Craig was the only kid who could climb the tall, greased pole and grab the $100 bill from the top.
We talk about kickball games in PE, going to chapel (yes, we had chapel!), the excitement of bag lunch day when we walked to the park, being on patrol duty, and collecting those fuzzy little “bunny ears” that fell from the giant magnolia in the school yard.
Reader, I’m sure you, too, can share a number of stories about life in your own elementary school. So many of these experiences become permanently etched in our memories and they come in all varieties – the good, the embarrassing, the funny, and many we wish we could forget altogether.
What Are The Stories of LCS?
Let’s make no mistake about it, our LCS is also a story-making factory for thousands of children through the decades. Just what types of stories have been and are being written in the depths of young minds? For starters, a perusal of the school calendar will give you some ideas. There are field trips, retreats and classroom activity galore.
And then there are the discoveries made at Centers, or in the Wonder Room…developing an artistic talent…learning to love a sport…and understanding that everyone around us isn’t necessarily just like us – and that’s okay.
There will be stories of drama, cliffhangers, sagas, comedy, tragedy, and even some fiction.
Most crucial, perhaps, are the stories written on our students’ hearts – stories about cherishing close friendships with the “Jacks” in their lives. Likewise, there will be stories about forgiving-- seventy times seven -- the “Dales” that constantly torment.
Although there will certainly be sad stories that exhibit our brokenness, we’re just as certain there will be stories characterized by love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Dixieland was a great place, but the very mission of LCS means – most importantly – there will be stories of redemption and hope.
Finally, whereas my stories are based somewhat on truth with a measure of exaggeration, I’m grateful the stories of LCS will have – somewhere in the mix – the common thread of the most important truth of all -- God’s Truth.