by Jay O'Toole
This is chapter #11 of The Quest for Home, my NaNoWriMo novel for November 2017.
Learn respect for young and old
as you teach and serve.
Honor truth with hearts quite bold.
Speak with greatest nerve.
Quest Makes His Choice
Casa pondered the many things that D'Oso had taught him during the most life-changing night he had ever experienced.
D'Oso's Purpose advances, whether individuals agree with Him or not.
Hell was created by the choice of those, who rejected D'Oso, in the spirit of "letting them have their own way."
Heaven is the Home of those angels, who remained faithful to D'Oso and of those Earthbound creatures, who accept His Gift of Salvation.
Casa's own life was changed forever simply by accepting the Word of D'Oso as the Truth.
Casa was forgiven and made right with God by acceptance of D'Oso's Gift, not by doing anything to earn it.
"Mmmmmm. Ahhhhhhh." Quest yawned and stirred to life. He sat upright and looked at his Dad. "Good morning, Dad. What did you learn about this 'Choice' thing?"
"More than you could ever imagine, My Boy. I think it's safe to say that explaining what I have learned will take both great patience and great skill, but if you will listen with your whole face, then I will explain everything carefully with my whole face." For the next two hours or so Casa recounted every little detail of his visit with D'Oso, the Grizzly Bear. Some of the concepts required a lot of small words over more paragraphs in order to help his son's young mind to grasp what appeared to be quite complex, even to Casa.
Finally, Casa confessed that some things were mysterious to him. "But as simply as I can put it, 'The humans did a terrible thing. It affected all of us. D'Oso put it right by His Sacrifice and New Life. You can be put right with God if you accept D'Oso's Gift to you without trying to earn it."
Then Quest exclaimed, "That's for me. Thank you, D'Oso, for putting things right with Your Father. I accept your Gift. Please, put me right with Your Father, too."
"I did that last night. Now, He's got us and we can't do anything to lose it. How GREAT is that."
"Really GREAT!" Quest agreed.
"Quest, this is a Wonderful Day. Now, we have new life by The Gift of D'Oso's sacrifice to provide security for us Now and Forever. I almost forgot that we live in a country where the humans remember those, who have served to provide security for their country. Even though we bears don't have any military forces per se, the Alpha Males in our sleuth band together to provide security for our families in the forest. A few years ago we started to parade through the forest to honor those, who protect us the way the humans parade through Fort Worth."
"Really? It sounds like great fun to watch a parade. Let's go."
"It is fun, but more than that, it shows respect for their sacrifices for us. Remember to place your paw over your heart as you stand at attention. The paw over your heart is another way to show respect."
"I'll do that, Dad. Thanks for telling me."
"Hup! Two! Three!
All can see.
Bears are marching,
Through the forest
as we're bade!
"Join us, too.
We need you
as we do!"
"WOW! They're all together marching step-in-step! It's like they're one large bear, rather than twenty individual bears."
"Good eye, Quest! Nice of you to notice! Here come the drummers keeping rhythm. I'll bet you didn't know that we bears could play the drum."
"No, Dad! I didn't. That must be the reason for those unique gloves they are all wearing. They must help to keep the drumsticks in place."
"They do, indeed, Son! They've come to parade rest in front of the Master of Ceremonies lectern. Let's listen to what the M.C. has to say."
"Thank you all for coming to this year's Veterans Day Parade! Without these veteran Alpha Males standing guard and keeping watchful eyes open at all times, jackals, hyenas, and other riff-raff could come through our homes and decimate the sleuth.
"November 11th was adopted many years ago by the humans as a way to honor their soldiers. Five years ago on November 11th, the leadership of the sleuth of Northeast Fort Worth Forest signed a resolution that we would follow suit and do the same every November 11th. This is easy to remember as 11-11 at 11 in the morning.
"At 11:00 AM we Pledge our Allegiance toward the Standard-Bearer of our sleuth in remembrance of our great nation, our great sleuth, and the mighty Alpha Males, who lead us every day.
"Since it is now 11:00 AM on the eleventh day of the eleventh month let's all stand at attention with our right paws over our hearts and recite our Pledge of Allegiance.
"We stand resolved to honor Pledge
we make to Banner great.
"It stands for sleuth of great and small
from early, until late.
"Our lives we give to vouchsafe home,
both yours and mine as ours.
"For those so lost,...in silence wait
and watch for peers from tow'rs."
"Thank you, Everyone! At ease. You may be seated if you're not already at parade rest. Finally, I would like to close my part of the program with a poem. At the end of my poem, I would like the Prophet Winston Grizzly to ascend the podium and offer a closing benedictory prayer.
"I would like to thank the great national poet laureate, Jay O'Toole, for his contribution to these proceedings today. The poem is simply titled, 'Veterans Day.'"
Serving all to keep secure,
The veterans we laud.
Obeying call, commitment sure,
We stand, salute, applaud.
Their sacrifice we honor now
Remembrance Day is here.
In rev’rance, we all humbly bow
Their worth is always clear!
To thank we do, you Veterans,
So well you faithfully serve
And with you, we will always stand.
Commitment will not swerve.
The parade faded into the trees and marched its way right into the history books. The sun's rays floated long in the sky. Casa left really feeling the length of two days on his weary frame. "Quest, do you think you could go to bed early tonight. I need some sleep in a strong way."
"Sure, Dad. Besides, I like it, when you go to bed early in the evening. That means I get to curl up in your arms, making my bed quite a bit warmer and furrier. I would truly love that."
Finding their nest-bed of small limbs, leaves and evergreen needles, Casa and Quest got comfortable and immediately drifted off to sleep.
Second Grade Before the Holidays
Having been in the second grade for about two or three months as Quest could recall, he was starting to feel like the routine was "old hat." He had his long-distance glasses and a new confidence was fully ensconced in his heart. "Let Mrs. Carlyle throw at me whatever she may, and I will handle it. I got this."
No sooner had the words left the widescreen of his mind than Mrs. Carlyle, the kitty cat, was standing tall in front of him, glowering down at him over her pointy wire-rimmed glasses. "Mmmeeeeoooowww! Just what class are we studying right now, Young Mr. Bear?"
"That's easy. We're studying Math. I've finished my daily seatwork and I'm now working on my homework as we speak." (Big Smile)
"WRONG! We turned to open our English textbooks thirty minutes ago, Good Young Sir. We are studying Language Arts."
"But, but, but..."
"I have no motor boats matriculating in my class...at this time! I have had enough of you ignoring my directions, hearing ONLY THAT, which you wish to hear!" She slammed his Math closed, tossing all of his loose leaf papers onto the floor. "Stand up! March out my door! Stand against the wall in the hallway and wait for me! I need to see if Mrs. Hazelton, the bear, is available to observe a paddling. (Mutter, mutter, mutter, meow, meow, meow,...If I didn't, legally, have to have a witness for a paddling, then I would have already smacked you in front of the class, which is what you deserve.)"
Mrs. Hazelton came, dutifully, and watched three solid swats. She, then, returned to her class without so much as a word.
Quest, on the other hand, dragged his feet back to class and didn't look anyone in the eyes for the rest of the day.
"Daddy, I got a paddling in school, today..." (feet shuffling)
"My Goodness. What did you do, Son?"
"I was working on my Math homework, while the teacher was trying to have Language Arts class."
"What caused you to get a spanking?"
"That was it. I was doing my Math homework, but Mrs. Carlyle didn't think I was showing her proper respect because I was doing Math when she was doing Language Arts."
"You have got to be kidding me. You were working on one of your subjects, but you got a spanking because you weren't working on the right subject? Dear Lord Jesus, I'm mystified." Casa shrieked.
"What are you saying, Dad? You think I didn't do anything wrong?"
"I'm saying that I understand the importance of having all the students focused on the same subject at the same time, but to give you a paddling for doing homework, even the wrong homework, sends a very bad message. I believe her response was excessive. I will address this with her when I take you to her class. Personally, I believe she should have said something like, 'Quest, it is great to see how much you love Math. You're always one of my best students in that subject. However, I believe it is just as important to have you be strong in Language Arts. That is a subject in which you have room for improvement. Would you be so kind as to join us there now?' Leadership at any level requires grace. Correction with grace maintains an individual's dignity. Harsh punishment discourages people. No organization grows strong on the 'strength' of discouraged people. Always remember that, Quest."
"I will, Dad. Thank you for defending me. I want to please, Mrs. Carlyle, but not because I'm scared of her."
"I strongly agree with you, Son. Nobody should have to do that."
The next morning Quest and Casa arrived thirty minutes early at his school. Dad wanted to have a conversation with Mrs. Carlyle, and he didn't want to be rushed. "Casa, you run along and play with your friends. I need to have a civilized conversation with your teacher, Mrs. Carlyle." Quest ran off, while anyone close to Casa would have heard him repeating under his breath, "I WILL have a civilized conversation. I WILL have a civilized conversation. I WILL have a civilized conversation..."
Casa approached Mrs. "Kitty Cat" Carlyle still muttering to himself.
When he caught her eyes, she purred with all the wilds of her felininity, "Well, Good Morning, Meowster Bear! It is soooo good to see you today!"
"We shall, indeed, see momentarily, Mrs. Carlyle."
The comment made her whiskers twitch. "Whatever do you mean, Meowster Bear? My, but aren't you looking quite dapper today?"
"Mrs. Carlyle, I understand that my boy, Quest, received a paddling from you yesterday because he was doing his homework."
"Yes, Mr. Bear, that is quite correct! He was punished for showing disrespect to me in front of the whole class. I can't run a class without proper respect."
"I will agree to part of your last sentence, Mrs. Carlyle. I have my misgivings about your ability to 'run a class.'"
"Am I to understand that you are accusing me of being wrong in your son's case, Mr. Bear? If that be so, then I have my misgivings about your ability to teach proper respect to your son."
"An ad hominem attack will not serve you well, Mrs. Carlyle. Might I suggest we stay on task? Remember, I did not attack you. I gave a studied opinion since I had all night to think about my words. I am...still...choosing...them...carefully."
"Point well taken, Sir, but why do you question my correction of your son's behavior?"
"I have not questioned your correction of my son. Continuity and focus are non-negotiables in a well-ordered classroom. My question is only with the degree to which you applied your correction."
"So, you object to paddlings?"
"In most cases I do. Rare is the adult, who is sane enough to apply a light enough tap on the thickest part of the gluteus maximus in order to get the attention of the child without causing harm in any way. That being said, angry adults should wait at least five to ten minutes before applying even verbal correction. This allows the angry adult to return to a state of the similitude of sanity."
"You seem bent on quelling my teaching style."
"That is on the agenda, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. First of all, my boy, Quest, is studious, respectful, patient and generally does not retaliate, even verbally, when he has been wronged. Here is where I am determined to correct your behavior in the gentlest manner possible. It is my strong belief that Quest could have been corrected with these words that I expressed to him last night. 'Quest, it is great to see how much you love Math. You're always one of my best students in that subject. However, I believe it is just as important to have you be strong in Language Arts. That is a subject in which you have room for improvement. Would you be so kind as to join us there now?' If you had used those words with Quest, I believe that the results would have been more beneficial and long-lasting, correcting his behavior in a socially-acceptable way, preventing the need for our present conversation."
"I see your point. What would be necessary for me to correct MY behavior, in order to return to your good graces?"
"That speaks well for you. It is a maturing adult, who can admit when he or she is wrong. First, I believe we are about to do away with my need to have an additional conversation with your principal about a potential reprimand, being placed on YOUR permanent record. Secondly, I require that you apologize to Quest, publicly, in front of his class with Mrs. Hazelton present. Finally, I expect you to express to the class your expectations of them on a daily basis, if that is necessary, to increase the retention of those expectations, and that you will no longer use a spanking as a first-line of correction, but a very distant last-line of defense for the protection of your classroom. At that point, expulsion or a paddling would be a toss-up, and I think you understand which one I would prefer that you choose in that case. Have I made myself perfectly clear?"
"Crystal. Would you mind waiting here for a moment? I have an infraction to mend." With that Mrs. Carlyle went to contact Mrs. Hazelton to bring her back to the classroom, if at all possible, at that moment.
In a few minutes, Mrs. Carlyle was standing in front of her class with Mrs. Hazelton present. "Class, I am sorry for being an angry, rash teacher on yesterday, and even during my history with you before that day. Quest, I am sorry I gave you a spanking for simply doing your Math homework. I should have at least given you a warning since you appeared to be unaware of what you were doing wrong. I would like you all to know that we need to work together as a class on a subject by subject basis. When we are studying Math, we all study Math, together. When we are studying Language Arts, we all study Language Arts, together. In the future, I will choose expulsion before spanking. This should alleviate any need for spanking, whatsoever since expulsion escalates the level of correction to the principal's office. At that point, it will be out of my hands. Quest, you ARE an excellent student. Can you ever forever me?"
"Yes, Ma'am. I've already forgiven you. I believe you are a good teacher, too. It's really okay...and...it's over."
They smiled and the incident faded into the past.