The TARDIS Doghouse

As the school year is completing, I visited each of my four younger grandchildren at their respective schools and brought lunch. Today it was Jonathan’s turn. His last day of school is Thursday. 

As soon as we were seated in the cafeteria, this bright and creative boy informed me that he had gotten a low grade on a project he had just finished. He seemed genuinely surprised by his teacher’s assessment. As he shared his story, I was deeply touched, more than a little dismayed…and so glad that I chose this day to have lunch with Jonathan. 

The TARDIS Doghouse
The assignment was to build a doghouse out of foam board and paint it. In my family we have many Whovians…fans of the long running British TV show, Doctor Who. Jonathan came up with the clever idea of creating a TARDIS doghouse, making his project taller, and thinner, and painting it the bright blue that is characteristic of the Doctor’s traveling time and space machine. 

Jonathan’s doghouse hints that it just might be bigger on the inside…a classic Doctor Who reference…and he even added the light atop the roof. 

The TARDIS Doghouse
Listening to Jonathan as he described his project, I was impressed. However, his teacher was not. He is not familiar with Doctor Who, or the TARDIS. Giving Jonathan low marks, he said this 5th grade boy didn’t do the project in the right way, that he didn’t measure and cut correctly. In short, he told Jonathan he messed up, made a mistake, failed. 

I understand that Jonathan might not have followed directions exactly. And his project didn’t look like everyone else’s. However, he chose to think outside the box and create something unique…and meaningful to him. He expressed creativity when perhaps following directions was the real assignment. 

I am so proud of my grandson! 

The TARDIS Doghouse
We spent the rest of lunchtime discussing creativity and expressing ideas and chatting about Doctor Who. I shared with Jonathan that sometimes people don’t understand those who think creatively but that doesn’t mean we have to conform. I’m not trying to turn my grandson into a rebel. However I wanted him to know it is okay to be different, create something different, and have a vision. I love his ideas. 

Fortunately, another teacher, a Whovian, recognized his project for what it was and expressed delight with it. Jonathan’s teacher raised the creativity score, but did not change the overall grade. My heart felt this boy’s pain at not being recognized for his work. When he invited me to pop up to his classroom after lunch to see the TARDIS doghouse, I was thrilled. 

The TARDIS Doghouse

In the empty classroom, a row of doghouses lined a shelf. They all looked exactly the same…square boxes with peaked roofs…except for one bright blue taller thinner doghouse that really stood out. What an extraordinary project, from an original thinker. 

After much praise and many hugs, I left Jonathan with his teacher. Had the teacher not been in the presence of children when Jonathan joined his classmates, I would have had a few words with him. Nothing raises my ire like unfairness toward children. My words would have been civil, however, I would have loved to have asked him some questions. 


Why is it more important to teach kids to always follow the rules rather than express creativity? Why not encourage, rather than condemn? And why not acknowledge that there are many ways to create a doghouse, other than making them all identical? Jonathan did measure. And his measurements were exactly right for the creation he had in mind. 

I hope Jonathan will keep being his shining, creative, unique self. He will always be graded on his performances, by someone. I want him to know there is so much more to life and living joyfully and freely, beyond receiving marks, or grades, or scores on a piece of paper. 

I think his TARDIS doghouse is beautiful and amazing, just like him. And I know a certain faithful Doctor Who companion who would absolutely love it…just as I do. 

The TARDIS Doghouse

Jimmy John’s Lunch with Jonathan

I enjoy having lunch with my grandchildren, at their schools. I pick up the food of their choice and join them in the cafeteria for a meal and conversation. Although their lunch times are short, that 30 minutes still presents a great opportunity for one on one time with that child, who gets all of my attention. 

Today I joined Jonathan at his school. He requested a ham and cheese sub from Jimmy John’s. And this is what’s funny about his request…I’ve never eaten a Jimmy John’s sandwich, ever, until yesterday! I joined friends at one of the Joplin locations and then today, stopped by the Pittsburg Jimmy John’s on the way to Jonathan’s school. Never before…and then Jimmy John’s two days in a row. 

What I discovered yesterday was that this sandwich shop, which promises fresh and tasty products delivered freaky fast, offers a veggie sandwich option. And taking that idea even further, they will make any sub or club into an “unwich”, wrapping the filling in lettuce leaves. 

Perfect. I shifted from thinking I’d just have an unsweet tea while my friends ate…to having an unwich, minus the cheese and mayo. Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and avocados tucked inside lettuce leaves made a simple and healthy meal. 

Today I picked up another unwich for me and the ham and cheese for Jonathan. We chatted while we ate, covering a broad range of topics. Jonathan is very good at technology and figuring things out. He is eager to help his cousin Aubrey create a YouTube channel soon, as she develops an idea. I love that about this bright, good natured boy, he is always willing to help and offer his knowledge. 

He is also honest and to the point. When I asked him if he was having a fun day, he answered that he didn’t have a fun morning. There was too much math involved! But the day was improving, with a Jimmy John’s lunch and recess up next. 

I love this boy and I am proud to be his Yaya. Our lunch time flew by. Before he headed out to the playground, he humored me with a selfie, because we always capture our time together with a photo. Jonathan probably thinks it’s just one of my quirks, these fun pics. But I’m capturing the moments so I can save them up. I know how fast the years fly by, and how quickly the boy will become the teen and then the man. 

For today, during this moment, we were Jonathan and Yaya, laughing and talking over Jimmy John’s. And I’m smiling tonight, remembering, as I look at our selfie. 

Surrender 133: Pizza with Jonathan

Today I had the privilege of having lunch at school with grandson Jonathan. He requested a pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut and a root beer. I also included chocolate chips cookies. He was excited to see me. When I asked him if he wanted some of his friends to join us at a booth, he answered that he preferred Jonathan and Yaya time. I was happy to oblige. 

Although we started off seated with the other fourth graders, Jonathan received permission for us to move to a far booth in the empty adjoining room, where we could chat freely. I so enjoyed conversation with this intelligent and talented boy as he ate his pizza. 

Jonathan is fearless when it comes to trying new adventures. He participates in plays, and sings in talent shows, offering from his heart. And Jonathan is very tech savvy. One of this 10 year old boy’s dreams was to have a YouTube channel that he hosts and regularly posts to. He can cross that goal off his list. With the user name of Classyguy 2005, he currently has 105 subscribers and that number is growing daily. I’m happy to be one of those subscribers and I enjoy Jonathan’s fun videos. 

Check out Classyguy 2005 on YouTube HERE It would thrill him if you subscribed!

Jonathan and I chatted about his videos and ideas for upcoming projects. His ease in front of a camera makes recording videos an ideal outlet for his creativity. I’m very proud of him! 

The school year is winding down. Lunch time was too. Jonathan expressed sadness that next Friday was his last day of classes, which surprised me a bit. I asked him why. He earnestly shared that this year, he has had an exceptional teacher, Ms. Tims. Holding his hand at chest level, he explained, “I’ve had regular teachers. This year, I’ve had a GREAT teacher. (He raised his hand to forehead level) Yaya, I don’t know how I’m going to go back to having a regular teacher.” He dropped his hand back down to chest level. What a beautiful tribute to an extraordinary teacher. Jonathan is right. Ms. Tims is great. I’ve been present for a couple of the Coffeehouse Poetry Readings that she creates for her class. I’m so grateful Jonathan was her student this year.

I stood with Jonathan as his class lined up to leave. We whispered together. He invited me to join him in creating a video and we worked out the details. It’s going to be fun! I hugged him and as he filed out, he ran back for one more tight embrace. At the cafeteria door he turned to wave and shouted out, “Bye Yaya!”  

I sure love this boy. These grandkids, they have the ability to make me smile and teary-eyed at the same time. It’s their superpower.