Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mrs. Jean Belz 1919-2010

Joel and I spent 7 years working at a boarding school in Iowa. And that's a blog all of its own. Tonight, though, and maybe more nights after this, will be about the woman who founded the school in the 1950's and who, at the age of 80, was still teaching and dorm parenting when I arrived on the scene in 1998.

Mrs. Belz had an interesting way about her. I wasn't scared of her, but I did feel I needed to act a certain way. I needed to be proper. I needed to be careful. I needed to be alert. All those things in a good way.

One of my first memories of spending time with Mrs. Belz was at her 80th birthday party. Eli was either a newborn or at home or both. That made going to a non-family member's birthday party possible since he was a horrible child from 9 months to oh, 6 years. Emma was little--4 or 5 years old. Grace was 3. Grace was too small to hold birthday cake on her lap, so I scooted her up to the table that held all 30 to 40 pieces of cake, made a little spot for her and gave her a piece. She and Emma were holding up well--no spills, no cries, no offenses that made people wonder if my children had been raised by wolves.

Until Grace finished her piece and reached for another. I pulled her hand back, pushed the cake back, explained that she had finished her piece and those were for other people. She became a sobbing mass of distress. Alert to the unraveling of my proper, careful image, I realized: she thought every one of those pieces was for her; and she was just getting started.

Now it was time to 1. preserve my dignity and 2. get control of my daughter. I don't know if either one worked. It didn't matter because Mrs. Belz came to the rescue:

"Well. I certainly understand her disappointment. I think she was really looking forward to my birthday party."