By RHONDA SCHROCK
Driving along on the way to church, he chirps it from his throne behind Daddy. “My teacher was happy at me.” It’s the Cheerful Little Cricket, our newest scholar who loves kindergarten and everything about it.
“Why was she happy at you?” I say, wanting to know.
“’Cause I remembered ‘juicy details.’”
“Juicy details?” I ask, looking for a few myself.
“Yes. It makes a good story.” He’s confident in what he knows. “Mrs. Davies asked us, and I remembered.”
Ah. So they’re learning about story writing, and Teacher’s told them how to craft a good one. Daddy and I, we’re laughing. Oh, the love of learning that little ones have. An utter delight is what it is, and a blessing, for sure.
Happy “at” him, huh? Well, I’m feeling happy “at” someone myself. That would be his father, the venerable Mr. Schrock who’s at it again. For weeks, he’s had a bee in his bonnet. And when that happens, well, stuff happens. This time, it’s a long-overdue remodeling project that he’s tackling with both hands.
Every Saturday, the downstairs bathroom explodes into a beehive of activity. Suddenly, it’s the set of Home Improvement, and he’s Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. While Al and his flannel shirt are missing, we do have a pleasant fellow named Kirby who comes by to help. He doesn’t wear flannel shirts, Kirby doesn’t, but he shows up in a tool belt, which, by all appearances, he knows how to use.
Lately, I’ve been catching The Tool Man standing in the bathroom, not saying a word. His eyes scan the walls, follow the line of the ceiling, sweep over the floor. He’s got The Look.
Whenever I see it, there are two things I know. First, he’s either plotting the next steps in his logical, orderly mind, or he’s visualizing the end result. Likely both.
The second one is this—when he’s in that mode, it’s best to keep moving because anything that sits still will get spackled, leveled, sanded and painted before you can shout, “Tool time!” I know how he rolls.
In spite of the mess, the uproar and the need for constant motion, I’m very happy ‘at’ that guy. He sure knows what he’s doing, and the bathroom will be fabulous when he’s done.
I wish I could say that I’m always happy ‘at’ his kids. Or that they were always happy ‘at’ each other. Now, that would be something to be happy about.
Take what happened the other day. Here they came, Inspector Gadget and his brother, Little Schrock, scuffing into the house after school. Hungry, they began foraging for snacks; popcorn for Little, chips and salsa for his brother.
And there he went. Kid Kaboom, our in-house bottle rocket, with his hand in the chip bag, evil grin on his face, issued this disturbing announcement: “I licked one of the chips and put it back in the bag so he won’t know which one it is.”
Horror swept over the face of his victim, the Inspector, who glanced down at the chips in his own hand. Like lightning, he galloped past, depositing them in the trash can. “Uh, I think I’ll just wait ‘til you get a new bag,” he said, looking pale. He wasn’t (I could tell it) happy at all.
The father of the snackers and the snack saboteur wouldn’t have been happy at the ruckus that broke out a day or so later while he was at work. As I told my friends, “In other news, locals note that the annual phenomenon known as the running of the bulls has be — wait. No. It’s just the Schrock boys, enjoying a hearty, after-school chase. Never mind.”
He would never tolerate this at his place of business. Which is basically what our house is for me, seeing as how I telecommute. He wouldn’t put up with floors that shake, pictures that jump on walls, the bedding that gets tangled in knots when they land there, or the sight of someone’s legs waving above his head. He wouldn’t.
He’d not be happy at those shenanigans. If they’d pull this on his watch, those chasing, snorting, running bulls would be put out to pasture that quick, and probably someplace far away. Like, say, the Swiss Alps.
Call me crazy, but there are days when a good, old pound-and-chase is just what the doctor ordered. Watching two to three boys of various sizes flash past with Little and his rooster tails riding along in the slipstream, I can forget the doctors I’m not happy “at.”
I can forget the one who’s sniffling all over the mike as he dictates until I find myself reaching for a hanky to blow my own nose. I forget the bronchial pyrotechnics of an explosive sneeze that shatters my eardrums. I can forget all that and laugh for awhile from my ringside seat at the running of the furry, sweaty bulls.
I never wear red, of course, but something orange instead. Which is something to be very “happy at.”