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I like to play â€śrememberâ€ť with myself for one day when Iâ€™m not able to I will no longer have a game to play. I believe my mind is capable of many things that Iâ€™ve not even tapped in to yet. Phenomenally I know that I have the power to change my mood. Iâ€™ve tried it, tested it and found it most successful. For instance, I can be driving in traffic on I-94 when some whipper-snapper begins tailgating me. Iâ€™m not talking about the kind of tailgating where he is back there somewhere. Iâ€™m talking about the kind where heâ€™s either trying to kiss the bumper on the outside of my car or the one in it. For as often as I look out the windshield in front of me it seems like I have to drive paying close attention to what is in my rear view mirror. As of late, a lot of shenanigans happen behind me. When I am tailgated, cut-off, passed on the right or forced out of my lane by an irresponsible driver, I turn into Jodi Rae Ingstad â€“ The self-proclaimed Christian Blonde on the Prairie with extreme road rage. My nostrils stretch themselves open to feel as big as the hole in the Grand Canyon. I gnash my teeth and suddenly that thing that happens inside of me happens. Some superheroes just put on a cape. I grow tail feathers and turn in to â€śSuper Mother-henny!â€ť I place my hands tightly on the steering wheel and do everything I can to do that thing my mom and grandma always used to do to me. The finger shake. Not the middle finger like youâ€™d suspect most road-ragers to extend. I am a Christian road-rager and believe there is mighty power in the shaking of the pointer finger. I donâ€™t care what your age is. Seeing a woman shake her pointer finger at you while wearing a face of disgust is enough to make the Pope ask for forgiveness I reckon.
My mind is a thing too powerful to waste and so I turn my rage into something just the opposite. I use my mind to find the prize of serenity for another day. I can choose to be enraged or I can choose to be engaged with the people, friends, co-workers and animals around me. I choose engaged. I slow my anger and instead find joy in the fact I have the ability to travel in a modern vehicle and not in a covered wagon. I acknowledge that not all people woke up to drive and that too changes my mind from angry, enraged and reactive to grateful, aware and forgiving.
This day I am remembering my first day of school each year. It is a game I play with myself for a variety of reasons. My memory is so vivid about the olden days that I remember them extra hard so that when my golden days arrive I can die with the memories. I remember the names of all my teachers from every class in every school from every grade. I remember mundane things about them. I remember how Mrs. Mark in the sixth grade used to make me use a contraption that helped me hold my pencil correctly. I remember Mr. Thompson at Eastwood Elementary shared candy bars with us. Mrs. Fischer in Kindred told me I was â€ścute but not funny.â€ť I remember the smell of Mrs. Brekkeâ€™s perfume and I remember how Mrs. Hanson, my kindergarten teacher from Argusville, N.D., was sweeter than the blood in my diabetic body during a high glucose reading.
What I donâ€™t remember is being afraid to go to school. I donâ€™t remember my parents wondering if the bus driver would drive us drunk and I donâ€™t remember having to go through a metal detector to be searched for weapons. I donâ€™t remember my friends dropping out and I donâ€™t remember there being a pair of Nike tennis shoes that cost more than 300 dollars that everyone had to have. I donâ€™t remember boys wearing their pants down to the bottom of their hips with their boxers showing and I donâ€™t remember girls leaving the house dressed like 8-year-old hookers. And now I go back to remembering.
I do remember teachers had paddles and could use them. I remember them using them and I remember them being effective. Respect was taught back then with accountability built in to the sting of the paddle. It wasnâ€™t abuse then. It was school law and it was what made us know the difference between right and wrong.
Today I have all you parents on my mind as you send your kids back to school. Times are changing â€“ itâ€™s true. Inasmuch, not everything has to change. There was something very right and good about the fear of the paddle. It was even nurturing in a way. Hold on to the old ways as best you can. And donâ€™t forget to send along an apple for the teacher! They deserve at least that. Have fun kids! Donâ€™tâ€™ leave the house without pulling your pants up and buying a belt. Girls dress with class and not showing your (Oh thank goodness Iâ€™m not in a rhyming mood!) Happy 2011-2012 school year kiddos!
Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.