Tonya’s Birthday

Today is my wife Tonya’s birthday, and so I’d like to devote this post to her. I thought it would be fun to describe a typical day in her life, and since my day-to-day memory only lasts for about one day, I’ll describe yesterday. Here goes.

Just as she does every school morning, Tonya got up sometime around 5:45 a.m. I use the word “sometime” because it’s not like I woke up with her and got the official time. Once up, she had until 7:00 a.m. to: get herself ready, wake up our ten-year-old son Royce (he’s easy), wake up our fourteen-year-old son Ryan (he’s hard), make sure the boys got ready for school, fix a little breakfast, and get everyone loaded into our Dodge Caravan. She dropped Ryan off at Mitchell High School around 7:10, dropped Royce off at Gouge Elementary School around 7:20, and then reported for duty at Bowman Middle School to spend her day teaching math to 7th and 8th graders who typically don’t care about learning it.

The general idea is that her day at Bowman ends at 3:00 p.m., but that’s laughable. It’s always an after-school meeting, some work she’s got to finish, or something. Usually she doesn’t leave Bowman until after 3:30, and many days it’s not until after 4:00. Yesterday she must have left around 3:30 because she got home around 3:45. When she gets home in the afternoon, she has Royce with her because he rides a bus from Gouge to Bowman and stays in her classroom until she’s ready to leave. He’s supposed to do his homework during that time, but don’t get me started on that.

Anyway, yesterday I think that Tonya’s first words to me when she got home were, “I’ve got to be back at Bowman no later than 5:15.” I didn’t even bat an eye at that comment because I knew the deal. Every teacher at Bowman Middle School has to sign up to work three of Bowman’s home football games. Over the years, Tonya has done everything from collecting money at the gate to working in the concession stand. But, believe it or not, her favorite job is being a member of “the chain gang.” For those of you who don’t know football, “the chain gang” are the people who stand on the sidelines and handle the chains that are used to determine whether or not a team got the necessary ten yards for a first down. It’s usually men who work those chains, but for some odd reason Tonya likes doing it. I guess she likes the action of being down on the field.

“And where is her husband while all this is going on?,” you ask. Oh, he’s busy too. First, I had to get Royce to his 5th-6th grade football practice at 5:30. I’m an assistant to the assistant coach’s assistant for that team. Second, I had to leave that practice and go pick Ryan up from his j.v. football practice at 6:00. Third, since Ryan wanted to catch the last part of the Bowman game, I had to drop him off there on my way back to Royce’s practice. While at Bowman, I walked up on the field and briefly spoke to Tonya as she worked the chains. Since I hadn’t any supper, I was thrilled when she offered me half a bag of popcorn and half a Pepsi. I thoroughly enjoyed both as I drove over to Royce’s practice.

That practice lasted until 7:30, but Tonya and Ryan showed up to it around 7:15. Bowman’s game had ended (they beat Avery 30-6, had to get that in), and now the question of supper had to be officially addressed because Ryan was gnawing the dash of the van. The classic McDonalds option was tossed around, but I just wasn’t in the mood for another Big Mac. So we decided that the best plan was for Tonya and Ryan to go to the grocery store. We needed some stuff for the house anyway. They were still at the store when Royce’s practice finished up, and so I called her and told her to buy a frozen pizza for me and him. Ryan ended up going with some frozen Chinese dish that he later regretted. As usual once she’s in a grocery store, Tonya thought of plenty of other things that we needed. All told, the bill ended up being over $60. We’d have gotten out a lot cheaper at McDonalds. And what did Tonya have for supper? She fixed herself some popcorn. Yes, the woman loves her popcorn.

Well, by the time everyone had finished their supper it was after 9:00. Brilliantly, I had made Royce take his bath while we’d been waiting for Tonya and Ryan to get home from the store. So he was almost ready for bed. At least that’s what I thought. But along about 9:30 I heard Tonya reading to him as she helped him finish up his homework. I thought to myself, “Okay, once she’s finished with that she’ll go to bed herself.” That’s not what happened, though. At 9:45 she walked into the dining room and told Ryan to get in there. It was time to put the finishing touches on his miniature bust of the Roman emperor Constantine. (Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.)

For one of his classes, Ryan has been working on a report on Constantine. As part of the assignment, he had to create a small bust of the man. Well, I was willing to help him sort through the high points of the emperor’s life, but you might as well ask me to build a space shuttle as create a bust. My best attempt would no doubt have involved the purchasing of a Mister Potato Head kit.

Ah, but Tonya does have a touch of that arts and crafts thing about her, and she stepped up to the plate and helped Ryan out. So there they were, at a few minutes past 10:00, sitting at our dining room table, painting the finishing touches onto the great Constantine. By the way, those are the types of things for which we use our dining room table. For us to actually eat off it, it would have to be excavated, cleared, and thoroughly cleaned. Such is family life in this modern world.

Well, with Constantine formally finished up around 10:15, Tonya was finally allowed to brush her teeth and literally drop into bed. For the record, I’ve never met anyone in my life who falls asleep as quickly as she does. Being a night owl myself, I have no idea why she can’t sit up late with me. Just kidding, of course. Seriously, I have no idea how the woman does all that she does. All I know is that she was back at it again at 5:45 this morning.

I’ll close now with some verses that are highly relevant to all this:

1. And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)

2. He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)

3. Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)

Tonya will no doubt get a kick out of me citing anything from Proverbs 31:10-31. Every time I have a congregation turn to that text, she just groans and thinks, “It’s impossible to live up to the standard that passage describes.” Well, honey, I don’t tell you this enough, but don’t ever doubt that you do live up to it each and every day. Also know that I love you and I’m going to take you out to eat tonight. Of course, we’ll have to take the boys. I promise you, though, that we’ll do a little better than McDonalds. And, hopefully, I’ll be able to give you the one gift that I know you crave the most: being in bed and fast asleep by 9:30. Happy birthday!

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5 Responses to Tonya’s Birthday

  1. Russell, this is Robin. Malcolm forwarded me your blog for today. We both got a huge laugh out of it. Tonya is definitely the woman. I can so relate to the craziness of each day. Although I would rather umpire a baseball game than move chains. (And I could probably do it a lot better than some of the men we have had behind the plate.) Our dining room table also gets used for homework and projects. Malcolm is the project person at our house as I cannot draw a stick man well. Last year Jake had to paint a picture of the Mona Lisa for 9th grade art. Who comes up with this stuff anyway? Tell Tonya Happy Birthday from the Woodys and I hope she gets her wish of an early bedtime.

    • russellmckinney says:

      Hey now, this is a real treat. I don’t normally rate so high as to hear from the better half of the Woody combo. From what Malcolm tells me, you know quite a bit about being a modern-day Proverbs c.31 woman yourself. Umpiring baseball games, huh? Move back to the mountains; we need a lot of help behind the plate too! But seriously, thanks for your kind words, and try to get some sleep yourself!

  2. SPTP2011 says:

    Happy Birthday Tonya! Enjoy your night out with your boys
    Prayers for your day

  3. Stacie and I laughed together as we enjoyed this blog. Stacie said she could totally relate. Mark

    • russellmckinney says:

      Well, I can tell you one thing: she’s not slowed down any since I wrote that post. After the Constantine bust she had to help Ryan do a painting of the Beatles for a World Civilization class. Unbelievable.

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