Stupid or not, I am ordinarily a devout rule-follower.
However, this was our 5th grade Valentine’s party so I must have been feeling carefree, plus the gum hadn’t yet lost its flavor so I reasoned…
…she’ll never know.
Apparently I underestimated the eagle eyes of Mrs. Benson because she did know and called me to her desk.
I was so busted.
“Joanna…are you chewing gum?”
I couldn’t speak. Because at that point, what do you do? Swallow it? Show it to her in your mouth? Take it out with your hand?
For the love. You have NO idea how much I hated getting into trouble. (Still do.)
So I’m sure my face turned crimson as I stood there mutely, praying that my momentary indiscretion wouldn’t get me kicked out of the 5th grade. (And incidentally, I am wearing, as in all of my grade school memories, a red-white-and-blue granny square crochet vest.)
But then Mrs. Benson dropped the grace bomb.
“You know what?” she said. “I’m not going to punish you. You’ve already punished yourself enough. Now spit the gum out and get back to your desk.”
Holy crap. Was I that obvious?
What I felt in that moment was pure and utter shame. Mrs. Benson picked up on it and gave me a gift.
Repentance. Because at that moment I wanted nothing more in the world than to please Mrs. Benson for the rest of the school year because she had been so kind. A kindness I most certainly did not deserve in all my 5th grade depravity.
I cannot tell you the relief I felt in having been rescued that day from my own sinful behavior.