Sitting in the back of the room, I heard her say it. “Criss cross. On your bottoms!”
It was Little Schrock’s pretty, blonde and cheerful teacher. Settling into the now-familiar rocking chair just before that famous rug, she was preparing to read them a book.
Having a slow day at work, doctors falling silent, and hearing the tick-tock of old Father Time, I’d decided to surprise my kindergartner with lunch. Then the “criss-cross applesauce” directive, and a batch of eager listeners settled in, legs crossed Indian style.
Glancing around the room, I noted a sign posted on the wall in the reading corner. “Story Rug,” it said across the top. And below it, a numbered list, one, two and three.
“Sit criss cross.” That was one. “Voices quiet.” That was two. And the last one, number three, said, “Hands in laps.”
This, I thought to myself, all scrunched up in a kindergarten chair, is exactly how I’d start if I were called to speak on The Hill. “Ladies and gentlemen,” I might say, looking out over the chamber full of legislators. “Criss cross, applesauce. On your bottoms.” Using my patented maternal laser gaze, I’d sweep the room. “Put your hands in your laps, keep your voices quiet and give me your ears.”
In a world where no one, not even the IRS, could understand a complicated tax code. In a country where the freshly-printed health care bill alone had wiped out a national forest, judging by the photos, it was time for simplicity. And if there was anything that Mama would take to the Capitol, it was simplicity.
Simplicity with a side of common sense tucked into the bright orange purse. That’s what I’d take to Washington. And I’d start with the story rug rules.
Somehow, it seems fitting that those at the top should sit, for once, on their bottoms. Should sit, like small scholars, with just carpet beneath, for it can bring one’s perspective ‘round right.
Once they were all settled, hands folded in laps, I’d give them a simple, straight message. I’d talk founding fathers and original intent. I’d cover the second amendment. I’d speak of integrity and the state of one’s heart, all as they sat on their bottoms.
They wouldn’t get by with a thing, not with me. If Pelosi, for instance, made faces at Rand or Boehner discreetly pinched Reed, I’d be on it. Reaching into my handbag, I’d find my collapsible pointer, and I’d rap a few knuckles. The fear of the Lord is a good thing, we know, and sometimes it’s a mother who brings it.
I’d talk economics and excessive taxation. I’d teach a small-business perspective. Then, to finish it up, I’d talk about leading. I’d tell them that leaders are servants. That they’ve not been elected as dictators or kings, but instead they should lead by example.
“Life gets out of whack when we put ourselves first.” That’s what I’d speak to those gathered. Then, right there on C-SPAN, using the pointer, I’d drive it home one more time. “J-O-Y,” we’d sing all together in the halls of power. “Jesus first, yourself last and others in between.”
Unlike the workshops I hold for those here, I’d have to change tactics. I know this. Shooting off bottle rockets like I do for refocusing boys won’t work out there in D.C. No way I’m settin’ off boomers. No way. Tempting as it is, the thought of startled legislators jumping sky high, landing who-knows-where, I know better.
In Washington where a simple taxicab backfire has folks shooting holes in ceilings and floors, it’s not a good idea. Besides, with cameras rolling, I wouldn’t want to end up at the bottom of a dog pile of Capitol Hill police, security guys and janitors. I’d have to think of something else.
If the leaders got restless midway through our session, I suppose we could stand up and wiggle. To work out the jiggers and to help ease the tension, I’d use an old kindergarten favorite.
We’d make history. Never before has there been such merriment; such hooting and shouting and laughter. Not in Congressional chambers, for sure, not until Mama showed up.
That’s because they’ve never done the Hokey Pokey to bring politicians together. It’s hard to stay mad when your sworn enemy from across the aisle is sticking his right leg in and “shaking it all about” just beside you. It’s tough to hold a grudge when you see a Kennedy from Massachusetts and a Ryan from Wisconsin doing the same with a left leg. And then together—together—the entire assembly “turns themselves about.”
To quote the last line of the song, “That’s what it’s all about.” And to quote Mama, “Leaders are servants,” working together.
A new day could dawn. Oh, yes. It sure could, starting right there on the carpet.
Criss cross. On your bottoms.