ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

TREASURES IN THE SANDBOX

It was the Most Important Day of second grade, and Sarah was ready.

And why not?  She had been looking forward to this moment since . . . well, since the Most Important Day of first grade.  But now she was older.  Wiser.  More aware.  And she was anxious that this Most Important Day be properly observed.

So of course it was important that everything be just so.  A week before The Big Day she asked if she could get her hair trimmed to a shorter, more mature length.  And the night before she laid out her most stylin' school clothes, featuring khakis, a hot yellow shirt and these really neat shoes that were sort of like tennis shoes, only they weren't, and they had buckles and . . . well, you just had to see them, that's all.

Mom helped to get the day off to a great start by making Sarah's favorite French toast.  Only Sarah sort of dribbled syrup on her hot yellow shirt and stylin' khakis, so she had to run upstairs to change into her second-best outfit consisting of blue jeans and a Jonas Brothers t-shirt.

Nice, but not killer.

The last-minute change put her way behind schedule, and the school bus was beginning to pull away from the curb as she rounded the corner.  She dashed to catch the bus and was just reaching to pound on the door when the bus driver saw her, stopped the bus and flung open the door – right in Sarah's face.  Blood dripped from her nose onto her second-best outfit, and tears streamed from her suddenly swollen eyes as the chagrined bus driver tried to comfort her.

“Maybe we should take you home, sweetheart,” she said as she dried Sarah’s tears.

“No!” Sarah insisted.  “I’m OK.  It’s the Most Important Day of the Year!  I can’t miss it!  I just can’t!”

They did their best to mop the blood off of Sarah's face and clothes, and then chugged off to school.  Sarah was so excited about the day that she quickly forgot all about the morning’s calamities.  When they got to school there were still a few minutes until classes were scheduled to start, so she went to her favorite swing on the playground and pumped herself to heights she had never before been able to achieve.  At the apex of her swing she saw her best friend across the schoolyard.  At precisely the wrong moment, she let go of the swing with one hand to wave.  She flew out of the swing and landed – hard and awkwardly – on the playground sand, breaking a leg and spraining a wrist.  As she lay in the sand, slowly drifting out of consciousness, she noticed a shiny object on the ground beside her.  With her good hand she grabbed it.  Then she blacked out.

After being summoned by the school nurse, Sarah’s Mom rushed into the sick room to pick up her daughter.  She was stunned by what she saw: her sweet little second grader with her arm in a sling, her leg in a splint, a swollen nose, a black eye and blood stains on her second-best outfit.  But what really troubled her was what was on Sarah's face: a big, bright smile.

“Sarah, look at you!” her mother wailed.  “You're bruised and bandaged, and you've probably ruined your second-best outfit.  We’re going to have to take you to the doctor and you’re going to miss the Most Important Day of second grade.  Why on earth are you smiling?”

“Look, Mommy,” Sarah exclaimed, extending a still-sandy palm.  “I found a quarter!”

Life, like school, can be like that.  It can be tough, even painful at times.  But there are always treasures in the sandbox that make the challenges worth overcoming and the pain worth enduring.

On the Most Important Day, and every day.

— © Joseph Walker

E-mail Joseph 

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* * * CHECK OUT Joseph Walker’s LATest bookS! * * *

Click to find out more or order your copy of these uplifting collections:

Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit. 

"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen?  Home Remedies for an Ailing World."

Christmas on Mill Street - An All New Holiday Novel!