Attitude Check

“None of us wants to do it,” Dave blurted. “Only the teacher is excited about the show.”

I knew Dave’s Christian school class would be participating in a Bible quiz on a nearby Christian cable TV station, but I hadn’t taken note of the date. Dave had competed against his classmates earning his place on the team. Now he was saying the competition was to take place tomorrow.

“But you have an appointment with the dentist in the morning,” I had said.

My husband and I were shocked by our son’s response. “Good, then I won’t have to be on the show,” Dave answered, with an air of relief and determination.

“Hold it just a minute, son. Let’s take a look at this,” Pete said.

We knew the teacher would have put much prayer and time into the Bible Quiz Team. But our concerns went beyond the team. We sensed we were facing an issue deeper than a Bible quiz.

“You sound as though you’re relieved to have an excuse to miss the show,” Pete continued. “The teacher and team have worked hard on this, they’re counting on you. What do you mean, ‘I won’t have to be in the show’?”

“Dave,” I interrupted. “The dental appointment can be rescheduled. You’re not going to let the other team members down.”

“That’s just it, Mom, Dad. None of us want to be part of the team. It’s just not “in” to want to be waiting to ring a bell and answer questions about the Bible. It’s one thing to do it in class. I made the team because I’ve studied the Bible all my life. Remembering facts about it is almost second nature to me. But to do it in front of a camera, and all those people?” Dave’s head drooped, his shoulders sagged.

Pete began cautiously, “Dave, I don’t believe it would be right for you to let the class down. If there were adequate time to arrange a replacement for you, I’d let you back off the team. But it’s too late for that. I think it’s important you realize you do have a choice to make about tomorrow.

“We choose our attitudes, Son. You can go to the show with a trapped-into-it attitude, or you can choose to take part with enthusiasm and joy. It’s up to you.”

I was glad Pete didn’t say more. Slowly Dave trudged up the stairs to his room.

Pete reached across the table and took my hand. “Lord, help Dave to learn the importance of choosing a healthy attitude.”

Thirty minutes later I was catching up on some mending while Pete watched the news on TV. My mind went back more than twenty years to when our oldest child was still a preschooler. Every day Debbie awoke from her nap in a cranky mood. I simply dealt gently with her, trying not to cross her will until she was fully awake and returned to her more pleasant self. But on this particular day Pete was home and witnessed our toddler’s moodiness.

Reaching for a new length of thread, I recalled Pete’s words. “She doesn’t have to wake up moody. She can learn to wake up happy.” I had been certain Pete was wrong, was angry with Pete when he reprimanded her and told her she was not to be cranky when she awakes from her nap. I was sure he had handled things wrong and said so.

Now I smiled as I recalled the next afternoon. Debbie had come from her room after her nap with a toy in her hand and a smile on her face. I still don’t understand how it worked, I thought. Perhaps it was God’s mercy to honor Pete in his priestly role of father. I don’t think Debbie ever awoke cranky again. Somehow she learned about choosing her attitudes; that having a good attitude is better for herself and those around her.

“Whatever you did in Debbie, Lord,” I prayed silently, “help Dave to learn it, too.”

Dave stood before me interrupting my thoughts, clutching a bunch of papers in his hand. “Mom, will you help me study for the quiz?”

Pete turned off the TV and found something to do in another room. I laid aside my mending and began drilling Dave on the details of the Genesis account of the flood. I could see Dave relaxing and even beginning to enjoy himself.

The next day I phoned Pete at work. “He got up on his own and phoned the dentist’s office to cancel. He was smiling when I dropped him off. I think he’s taken a big step in the right direction.”

That evening Dave excitedly shared with the family, “It was a pushover. The other team just didn’t know their stuff.”

© Beverly Caruso

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