Sometimes life asks us to adjust to things, changing from what we're used to. In this week's Torah portion, Moses, the only leader the people ever knew, tells them that he is about to step aside and that Joshua would be leading them from then on. It wasn't easy for the people to get used to. Changes in life's routines are not always easy for us, but they are part of life and adjusting to them is part of how we grow.
In our story, a kid finds herself in the face of an unexpected change.
WAYS AND MEANS
It had been a great school break for Sharon. She'd gone on an amazing trip with her family to the Grand Canyon and couldn't wait to tell the class all about it, during the 'welcome back' show-and-tell session that her great teacher, Mrs. King, made for the class every time they got back from a break. She'd even brought pictures to show everyone.
She bounded into the classroom and did a double take. The classroom looked different. The desks were arranged in straight rows instead of the usual semi-circle. The big, funny cartoon posters had been replaced by charts full of what looked like grammar rules. But the biggest change of all was that at the teacher's desk: instead of Mrs. King, sat someone else!
"Welcome students," the lady at the desk said. "For those of you who haven't heard, your teacher, Mrs. King, is now the mother of a healthy brand new baby boy. She's taking the rest of the year off and I will be taking over. My name is Mrs. Ellis. So now, please take out your literature books and we will begin."
"Um, teacher?" a kid raised her hand.
"Since it's the first day back, Mrs. King always lets us spend the class telling about our vacation and we only begin learning tomorrow."
The woman nodded her head. "Well, I do things differently. I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to tell each other all about it during recess, but this is a classroom and it is class we will begin."
Sharon's heart sunk as the lesson started. Not only because she wasn't going to get to show around her great pictures and see everyone else's, but because she was going to have to spend the rest of the year with this mean, new teacher instead of Mrs. King. Well at least in another 20 minutes they'd get to have a mid-lesson break.
She watched the hands of the big clock tick on the wall and at exactly 20 past, she, as well as a couple of the other kids, started pushing back on their chairs and standing up.
"Excuse me," the teacher said. "Class isn't nearly over." She was looking right at Sharon.
"But this is our five-minute break time," Sharon asserted. "Mrs. King always lets us get drinks and things now. She said break help us concentrate."
"Well, maybe that was her way. However, I do things differently. I believe that breaks are disruptive. Please be seated."
Sharon glumly slid back onto her chair. This is going to be a terrible class, she thought. This is going to be a terrible term! Why did their great teacher have to leave them for this mean replacement!?
After what seemed like forever, the dismissal bell rang. After getting the teacher's nod of approval, the kids gathered their things and started to go.
"Excuse me, Mrs. Ellis," Jackie, the class 'brain' piped up loudly. "We didn't get our homework assignments yet. Mrs. King made sure to give us homework every day."
Sharon groaned. Why did she remind her? All that homework was the one thing she didn't like about Mrs. King. She could only imagine how much this strict, new teacher was going to give them.
The teacher nodded. "Well I do things differently. I believe that school time is school time and home time is home time. I make sure you work steadily in class so you can spend the rest of your day playing and relaxing. There will be no homework in this class," she smiled. "Playing is very important for kids your age, you know," she added, with a wink.
The class let out a cheer and burst out the door. Wow, no homework for a whole term! Sharon thought. This new teacher sure was different from Mrs. King, but maybe she would get used to her and even like her, too - just in a different way.
Q. How did Sharon feel at first about having a new teacher?
A. She was upset and wanted things to go back to how they were.
Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She felt that even though things were different, they were okay.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Sharon learned?
A. She'd felt very attached to her old teacher and didn't think she would adjust to the change, but she discovered that even in new situations a person can find ways to adjust and appreciate them.
Q. What if the new teacher had really been just mean? Do you think Sharon could have adjusted, then?
A. It would have been harder, but she could have found a way. Perhaps she would have realized that this was a good chance to learn how to cope with situations, which is a big lesson in life.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think a person can get used to anything and everything?
A. Some situation are surely more challenging than others, but God created people to be amazingly flexible and given enough time there is virtually no situation one can't find a way to adapt to.
Q. Are there times when we should refuse to adjust to a new situation?
A. Assuming we have an option, and if a situation truly feels unbearable and presents a serious risk to our health or our values, it is often in place not to accept a situation, but to give it our all to change it. However, most changes that come up in life can be successfully adjusted to, if we just get through the initial, normal discomfort of change.