Back to School

by Bob Smiley as told to Bob Smiley

My alarm clock hadn’t gone off more than 2 seconds before loud whooping filled our house. A big shadow cartwheeled into my room.

“Get up, Bob!” Dad said. “Today is the day that the Lord has made . . . for your mom and me!”

“I know, Dad,” I said. “It’s the first day of school. You obviously care a lot about my education.”

I was excited about school . . . evidenced by the fact that it took me only 30 minutes to climb out of bed. We’re getting a new teacher this year. Rumor has it the old teacher retired after seeing her list of students. I figured she knew how smart we are and decided she wouldn’t know what to teach us. My dad had another theory.

 

An hour later, I jumped on the school bus, shouting, “How’s everyone doing? Did you miss me?”

I heard an “Aughhhh!” as a leg shot out, covering the empty seat beside its pretty owner. I felt bad for the girl whose leg cramps keep me from sitting next to her every year.

I faked a big yawn to flex my new muscles as I covered my mouth.

“Wow!” Cindy said. “Look at your arm!”

“I know. I spent the entire summer lifting weights!”

“Actually, I meant I’d never seen one freckle cover an entire bicep before.”

Cindy loved to joke with me.

 

As I entered the hallowed halls of junior high, I was hit with a familiar smell.

“Sorry, Bob,” the janitor said as he rushed up. “I tried to get that smell out of your locker, but skunk scent is terribly hard to get rid of.”

”No problem, Mr. Gribble!” I said. “It helps me find my locker!” (Remind me to tell you my skunk-at-school story.)

I paused and smiled before entering my first class. I was starting a new school year and wanted to show Jesus to my friends through my actions. What a great opportunity! Plus, I was about to meet my new teacher, who didn’t know anything about me. I’d have a completely fresh start!

“You must be Bob,” she said as I walked in.

“Yes, Ma’am,” I said. “Could you tell by the intelligent look in my eyes?”

“Actually, your last teacher left some notes about you . . . more like a small book, really. But I think she made up some of it. No kid would put a skunk in his locker.”

“Yeah, that’d be really dumb,” I said, glad I’d brought a bottle of cologne to splash on after every locker stop. Then I recognized the symbol on my teacher’s necklace.

“Are you a Christian?” I asked.

“Yep!” She fingered her necklace and grinned. “I was going to put a fish symbol on the back of my car, but I didn’t want to change the way I drive.”

I couldn’t stop laughing. “We’re going to get along really well!”

It was the perfect way to start the year . . . right up until the bottle of cologne fell out and shattered on the classroom floor.

This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine. Copyright © 2008 by Bob Smiley. Used by permission. Illustration © Gary Locke.