If you’ve read my blog post, “I Always Have a Happy Feeling When I go to Church,” You know that I’m not the most patient when it comes to church.
In fact I really hate Sundays. I know, I know, total blasphemy coming from a church-going, Sabbath-keeping Mormon. But I really do hate Sundays. I dread them so much I can’t even enjoy my Saturdays. Not that I don’t like going to church in general, it’s just that kids, as much as I love them to pieces, stress me out like no other. Not to mention the fact that I have to plan a lesson every Saturday night for teaching the little kids in Primary the next morning (because heaven forbid I plan a lesson earlier than 12 hours in advance). I used to plan them on Sunday mornings until we switched to early church. That brings it’s own issues.
If we happen to do something fun on Saturday night, we have to choose between giving the girls their bath at midnight when we get home or wait until the morning and do it at the butt-crack of dawn. OK, so it’s actually 7:30 am…but it’s the weekend for heaven’s sake! Then there’s getting everyone ready in the morning. The boys can’t find their ________ (fill in the blank with: shirts, pants, ties, jackets) and NO ONE can find their shoes or socks. And just as soon as we seem to have everyone in the car , already 10 minutes late, we discover that someone is missing. And that particular someone is in the bathroom having to poop “really bad.” RIGHT now? They couldn’t have done this earlier? Or later? It has to be this very moment? Almost every Sunday?! Once everyone is actually in the car and we are careening around windy mountain roads on our way to church, we discover that one of the boys (who happens to be giving a talk in Primary that morning) didn’t bring his talk, but left it in his scriptures…at home. “Wait,” Hubby says, exasperated, “You had time to bring your Nintendo DS, a shoebox full of football cards, a change of clothes, and a Euro that our Home Teacher (it’s a Mormon thing) gave you so you could show your friends, but you forgot your scriptures with your talk in them?!” And that’s just getting ready for church. The real thing hasn’t even started yet.
Once we get there we quietly slide into our seats, all smiles, whisper-yelling at our kids to “Be quiet and SIT DOWN NOW!” (more smiling) “I SAID NOW!!!” (still smiling) We sit through the meeting and no matter how uplifting and insightful the talks are I never hear them because I either A) Fall asleep (hey, my medication makes me tired!). B) Keep telling child #1, 2, 3, or 4 to be quiet, stay seated, turn back around, stop humming, stop drawing people who are being decapitated and draw something churchy for goodness sake, share with their sister, or stop throwing a fit. Or C) take a little one out of the meeting so they can continue throwing a fit without disrupting the whole meeting. Then once Sacrament Meeting is over we proceed to Primary where I teach little kids who are very cute and generally well-behaved, if a little squirrelly.
But inevitably something goes wrong. Preemie often has a massive meltdown because she wants to sit on my lap instead of with her class. Princess sasses her teacher who gives me the “What the heck do I do about this?” look. The kids in my class are a little rambunctious and end up needing backup from the Primary Presidency to keep them from jumping (literally) out of their chairs. But when it’s time to teach my little group of five and six-year-olds things usually calm down. Except for last week when we had to switch around classes and I ended up with three four and five-year-olds, three of which I had never met and were siblings.
The first sign that I had no control over this class was the fact that once “Sharing Time” was over they all disappeared and I had no idea where they were. When I finally found them I discovered that three of them had followed the other class and one of them had been wandering aimlessly, hopelessly lost. Once I rounded them all up in class I tried to teach them their lesson about families. In actuality I spent most of the time repeating over and over, my nice sing-song voice getting harsher and more serious as time went on, “Sit down, everyone has a family, keep your hands to yourself, Jesus had a family, use your inside voices, There are different kinds of families, stay in your seat, your family loves you!” Most of the time the three boys were either kicking each other, wrestling each other, or running around the room. Thankfully the little girl sat quietly the whole time. As for the boys, I pulled out all the stops. I tried coloring. I tried generating discussion. I tried playing a guessing game which they refused to participate in. I even bribed them with pennies! One of their dads who heard him yelling from the other room came in and reprimanded him, but they still would not calm down. If I asked, “What does your family do for you?” They answered with, “Slice me up and smoke comes out of my ears!” If I asked, “Do you give your family hugs?” They yelled, “NO!!!!!” Finally I told each of them to draw a picture of their family. I wrote on each piece of paper: “My family loves me.” They drew monsters. Then they used their monster pictures as masks and ran around the room,yelling, “RAWRRRRRR!”
When there were still 5 minutes left, which is an eternity in kid-time, I was done. I was completely out of ideas. Luckily, I was saved by the amazing woman in the class next door who had enough necklaces for my class to make, too. More than whether or not the kids learned anything, I was afraid that everyone was going to find out how out-of-control my class was and how wholly inadequate I am to teach four kids that their families love them.
I will say this: that as exhausting as church is, and as much as the idea of Sunday makes me cringe, there have been times that hearing 20+ kids sing together about the Savior has made me cry. And that when my little Primary class bursts into spontaneous singing about living in heaven before we were born, I just get the chills. Unfortunately, being a parent at church or Primary teacher makes learning for yourself a pretty rare experience. But I guess at that point going to church isn’t about filling up your own bucket of spiritual water, but about filling up another’s bucket. Because without us, who’s going to fill those precious little ones’ buckets? I just hope I was able to add at least one drop to their buckets last Sunday, even if it seemed like they were splashing the water all over me.