Hope's scary illustration began with each of the dozen or so teen girls really focused on how their silver-haired “Gram” would WOW them next. Their kitchen table story teller continued.
“Jackie. I'll be done with this text message to my stock broker in a minute. Be a help and turn the lights on and silence the GPS for me will ya?” With a questioning look, Jackie followed instructions.
In an aisle seat about half way back in coach, sat Trudy. She had looked forward to visiting her Florida relatives for almost a year. She really expects her visit to the Everglades and Cape Canaveral will be more enjoyable than the last of the stale peanuts that she hurriedly pops in her mouth with one hand. With the other hand she slides the boring aircraft magazine into the seatback pouch in front of her. In almost the next breath, she jerks her seatback to the upright position and double-checks that her seat belt is connected, ready for the any-second landing on runway 12, in this heavy-raining windy night.
Back up in the cockpit, the bumpy touchdown had made the texting more challenging than expected. Not every pilot can land a jumbo jetliner with one hand and send a text message with the other.” With this, Gram's illustration ended.
Gram explained to her Saturday fellowship girls, “Multitasking finds its way into our lives everyday. Most of the time we find it stressful, while just a few times we'll pride ourselves on how many plates we can juggle in the air at once – so to speak. In my little story, we quickly see two different people multitasking; the airplane pilot in the cockpit and Trudy in a cramped seat about half way back in the same jumbo jet, with her stale peanuts.”
Hope had her teens pretend each of them were Trudy, as they discussed the importance and dangers of multitasking by the pilot and Trudy too. A lively discussion followed that made the bottom line an issue of safety. Juggling peanuts and magazines is not at all to be compared with putting lives at risk trying to do more than one thing at a time in the cockpit of a jumbo jetliner.
To reinforce her point another way, Gram handed a tennis ball to one of the girls and asked her to toss it in the air just a little and catch it. Then do it five times right in a row. One time it was dropped – but quickly retrieved and the toss-catch process continued. The teen was congratulated in how well she did. Gram got another tennis ball from a nearby paper bag and handed it to the same teen who now had a tennis ball in each hand. Instructions were to now do the toss-catch action with both the tennis balls. The process wasn't quite as successful.
But Candy said it was no big deal because tennis balls bounce. You just pick them up and continue. The rest of teens shook their heads in agreement with Candy's comment.
Hope took the tennis balls away from the teen and dropped them in the paper bag. The girls were each startled when Gram pulled a china plate out of the cupboard. She handed it to Martha with the instructions, “OK Martha. Do toss-catch with it. Do it. Toss it up and catch it.” Martha held the plate horizontal and with both hands tossed it up, hardly two inches and then grasp it like it was her lifeline. Martha did it once more, and then breathed a great sigh of relief.
Hope went to the cupboard and pulled out another plate. OK, now Martha. This is multitasking. I hear over and over that teens like to do multitask texting and even get boastful about it. Here. Do toss-catch with both plates.” Almost in tears, the African American teen laid both plates on the table and with determination, said, “Gram. You mean so much to me, and I wouldn't dream of putting any of your stuff in danger. Please Please don't make me toss-catch your plates.”
Gram leaned over to the teen and gave one of her big hugs that just melted away hurts and heartaches. “No Martha. I didn't really expect you to juggle my plates.” Gram looked at the other girls and said, “Candy. I need you to help me, but I won't ask you to juggle any plates, OK?” With one hand on her cane, Candy moved slowly toward the center of the group, right in front of Gram. A third plate was retrieved out of the cubbord and placed on the table in line with the other two.
“Candy. I want you to take this dry erase marker and print the names of three of the girls in our group, in the middle of each plate. Each plate will have a girl's name. Ya with me?” Candy felt a little more at ease, knowing she wasn't going to have to do anything dangerous with Gram's china plates. Candy's cane was propped against the edge of the kitchen table and the names were written. The teen, the others all nicknamed 'Candy Cane', capped the marker then placed it in front of her silver-haired teacher and returned to the back of the group.
“Now girls. You remember Martha wouldn't juggle two of my plates because she thought it was dangerous and she cared about my stuff? Well, that tells me a lot about how Martha cares about me and then my plates too. Now I want you to stare real close at the three plates with names on them. I want you to pretend that each fragile plate is a person; it's one of you. Think about one of these plates being you and your feelings. None of you want your feelings hurt, or heart broken. And I know you don't want to do that to others. You don't want to break their plate, sort-of. Right?”
“Well, God has given us computers and smart phones that send text messages. He wants us to be super careful when and how we're multitasking. It can be texting or talking. If we're not real careful we can hurt our friends or confuse them with directions and opinions that were not thought out.”
“Now would be a good time for us to pray and in our own hearts asking God to give us good wisdom, with plain old horse sense in using our technology to honor Him and help each other. Do you know that God has made each you, something of a pilot, of the lives and decisions of someone near you. A china plate with their name on it, is held in your hands. The only difference is that your 'china plate' has their name on it. Handle it with great care and prayer.”