Flour Bag Babies Writer's Workshop Philip Hassey

In high school, I had to learn a lot of useless stuff. The most useless was Marriage, Family, and Social Issues. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Vriesma, the school's guidance counselor and Bible teacher had good intentions when he concocted this class. People, of course, need to learn about how to be properly married, have a family, and live in a society.
        Mr. Vriesma was about 6 feet something inches tall. Taller than me, so I had to look up to him a little. He was probably 38, and grew a moustache to prove it. Something of a reserved fellow, he proceeded to teach us about how children enter into a family.
        "Our next project is about having a baby," said Mr. Vriesma, standing in front of the class in front of a board full of figures on how to arrange your budget. He smiled, and continued, "You will each purchase a 5lb sack of flour and it will be your baby for a week." This idea was obviously a product of the ill-formed middle school, "Lets do projects to learn" theory. (get proper term)
        Obedient scholars we were, we all purchased our sack of flour and brought it to class. There were a few rules:
        1. Baby cannot be left unattended
        2. Baby must not be damaged
        3. Babysitters must be paid at least $1/hour to take care of your baby.
        In order to receive an A on your project, we had to return to class one week later, with our baby intact to prove that we had successfully done the project.
        I put my flour bag in a basket that my mom had made. I figured that would make it easier to haul the wretched thing about. Upon entering "Marriage, Family, and Social Issues" class, I got to see everyone else's' twerpling.
        "Yo Hass," said Doug to me, "What's up with the pretty basket?"
        "It's not as bad as Jen's," I said and pointed toward Jen Bedard. Her baby was dressed in baby clothes, in a fancy elaborate basket with little pillows and pink trimming flowing everywhere.
        "My baby is beautiful, because I care," Jen said as she saw me and Doug commenting on the pink trimming.
        "Hope your baby doesn't suffocated under all the atmosphere," said Doug.
        "She won't!" cried Jennifer, as she glared at us. Not noticing Steve briefly interacting with her flour bag.
        "Where is she?" I asked with a grin. Jen looked down at her basket, and to her horror and dismay, her flour bag baby was gone.
        A second later Steve walked into the room with a large grin on his face. He cast a large knowing glance towards everyone and Jen, and sat down. Before Jen could clobber him, Mr. Vriesma entered the room to begin class.
        At this point, I suppose some explanation should be able about the behavior of the students at Whitinsville Christian School at this point. It wasn't really our fault. See, the week before Mr. Vriesma had taught us about relativism.
        "Imagine," said Mr. Vriesma, "That you are a poor man. Your family is starving because of government oppression. Your baby cries constantly for lack of nourishment. One day as you walk down the street you see the bread shop at closing time, and you notice the rather plump store keeper leaving the shop to go home. You walk to the window and see that inside there is lots of tasty bread and morsels. Things that would keep your family alive and well for weeks." Mr. Vriesma felt he had to pause here for a moment to let the dramatic suspense build up. A screeching of a car could be heard in the distance, and some of us looked towards the window, as if it was our child crying out for food. Then the noon bell rung at the Catholic church. It was almost lunch time. Mr. Vriesma smiled after the effect had built up sufficiently, "Now, you notice that the store keeper didn't close his front door hard enough. 'I can probably get in!' you think. What do you do? Is it wrong to steal bread to feed your starving dying sad suffering family?"
        Us, being intellectually sharp 11th graders smiled comfortably. Now, we knew, that getting our way was more important than other things. Of course, in this case it was fairly simple. Steve wanted to irritate Jen. He was successful. Had he not taken the flour bag, he wouldn't have irritated her.
        After class was over, I looked down at Doug's baby and had to comment.
        "You're a disgrace, Doug," I said.
        "Naw," said Doug, "You're just jealous."
        I guess I sort of was. Doug was destined to get an A on his project. His flour bag was completely wrapped in duct tape about four inches thick. From one side, a rope hung out of the bundle. As Doug strolled out of class later, I became jealous. I had to carry my baby, but Doug got to drag his.
        "Oh here it is," whined Jen, when she got to her locker and opened it to find her flour bag baby. She rolled her eyes, and took it out and put it back into its basket. Then she screamed.
        "Steve! What did you do?" she yelled.
        It was fairly obvious what Steve had done when we looked at the baby. It she now had a lovely handle bar moustache.
        "Ha ha," laughed Steve as he walked by, stabbing her flour bag with a pen and ran off. Jen's face turned reddish. I'm pretty sure she was thinking bad thoughts.
        Later that afternoon, Doug and I had class together again. This time it was American Lit with Mr. VanTol.
        "Douglas," said Mr. VanTol, pointing at Doug's baby, "You're a disgrace."
        "Thanks," said Doug. We sat comfortably down with our flour bags and looked lazily out of the window that was halfway open. We probably would stay in that position for the rest of the class, watching the maintenance guy ridding his mower back and forth near the window.
        But we didn't. The screaming from the hall distracted us. Steve running through the classroom holding a flour bag that wasn't his own distracted us. The flour bag being hurled through the opened window distracted us.
        It was a priceless moment to see Jen's face when she glared across the room towards the window. The window was clouded entirely with flour. The rider mower had done a good job shredding that bag of flour up. As Jen's eyes grew wider, Steve's presence in the room grew scarce.
        The next day in "Marriage, Family, and Social Issues" Mr. Vriesma had to add a few more rules.
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