In a joke of cosmic proportions, I’m a Sunday school teacher. It’s kind of like my stint as a Girl Scout leader a few years back – somebody somewhere is laughing.
Hey, I’m not being sacrilegious. I’m just saying, they were desperate for Sunday school teachers.
Actually, my intentions were pure. I’m all about being a good role model for my kids. I volunteer at school so they know that I think school is important. I exercise so they see that hitting middle age doesn’t mean you have to be sedentary. And I teach Sunday school so they know that I believe church is an important part of life.
There’s just the little matter of my profanity. Old habits die hard. I try really hard not to cuss in front of my kids, but I am a backslider. And I justify my effin’ lapses by pointing out that at least I’m not drinking bourbon out of my coffee cup. (For the record, I do not cuss in church. I do have standards, for Christ’s sake.)
Anywho, I started teaching Sunday school when our oldest was in kindergarten. He’s now a high school freshman. So do the math. With a hiatus here and there, I’ve been teaching Sunday school for a decade – sometimes with the hubs, sometimes with one of my sisters or my mom. Am I a good teacher? That’s debatable. But I’m a warm body.
I probably should have stayed with kindergarten, maybe first grade. The older the kids get, the lippier they get. And the older I get, the less sing-songy my teaching methods are. I can feel myself morphing into the shrewy Girl Scout leader who wanted to take the cookies and shove them somewhere unseemly by the time she bowed out ungracefully two years ago.
I’m thinking this might be my last teaching stint for a while.
Right now, the hubs and I are teaching our youngest child’s second- and third-grade Sunday school class. Our church has teachers commit to a 13-week stretch during the school year. Some years we’ve taught all three periods, but this year we’re just doing the third. Good thing. One Sunday, we had 15 kiddos, four of them girls. On Palm Sunday, we were at 13, with two girls. And some of the little boys should count for about three kids.
Every Sunday, I reconfirm my long-ago decision not to pursue a career in education.
Eight- and 9-year-old boys were not meant to sit quietly and talk about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, even if you throw in the part about Peter cutting off the guard’s ear with a sword. Especially if you throw in that part, because that means the newspaper palms you just spent 20 minutes making become de facto swords.
So, this Sunday – Easter Sunday – I’m figuring we’ll talk about what everyone got in their Easter baskets, with some digression when someone tries to explain that the only proper way to eat a chocolate bunny is to bite off the head. And then one of the little girls will feign horror, and then one of the boys will relate a tale about biting the heads off all his sister’s Peeps, and Matt and I will basically lose control before regaining it with the threat of no treats. Then we’ll talk about the empty tomb and Jesus walking to Emmaus and what have you.
Of course, we have to have treats. The previous teachers this year have set a standard. The first Sunday, one little sweetie told us that they always get snacks. That peeved me at first, but after two Sundays, I recognized bribery. And now I’m on board.
Problem is, they don’t like what I bring. Last Sunday, I made homemade brownies. I mean, I didn’t have a mix. I pulled out the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook and realized I had all the ingredients. And personally, I thought they tasted way better than something from a mix.
But one little boy took a bite Sunday, wrinkled his nose, and said, “What did you put in these, anyway?”
“Sugar, cocoa, butter, flour,” I said. “I’m not sure what you put in your brownies, but that’s pretty much all there is.”
“They taste funny,” he said, as he threw the brownie away.
We have a couple little stinkers in the class. They’re not malicious, just ornery, and they wear me out. Tom can tell. One Sunday, on the way to church, he asked if his dad and I had had other kids who were hard to work with when we were teaching Joe’s and Maggie’s classes.
I thought about it. And yes, I’d had kids who tried my patience before. One of the worst was my oldest kiddo.
He was a doozy, he and his friend. And now they’re pretty compliant teen-agers. Which tells me what I already know – these kiddos I’m teaching now will grow up and be OK.
And it’ll seem like only yesterday that they were driving me to consider taking tranquilizers before church.
The days are long, but the years are short.