I was at church the other day manning the velvet rope into the 4 year old room when a problem arose: the ratio was off for volunteers to kids. Without much second thought I raised my hand and said I would skip the service and stay behind to assist – I am not teacher material. I’m still a bit intimidated by the kids: I’m used to adults, machines that don’t run properly, and angry people on the other end of the phone line: this is so out of my element, but I was up for the challenge!
Our Fearless Leader didn’t give me a chance to back out even when a few unexpected volunteers were wrangled in. “The sermon this morning is about volunteering, so don’t worry, you won’t miss too much,” she said with a smile. Awesome. Not merely just hearing the sermon, but doing it…..nice. We had almost 30 kids — all about 4 — so all hands on deck were needed. I got into the room and it was surprisingly calm. The other volunteers jumped right in; I was more like the shy kid who wasn’t quite sure what to do. I kept pushing play-dough on everyone who walked through the door and helped distract a kid who was not real excited about leaving Dad. “It’s only for an hour and I’ll be right back,” a mother said to her kid as she kissed them on the forehead and walked away. Mom was right: this is only for an hour. I can do this, I can do this. With my game face on, I started picking up the bits of play dough that fell on the ground and talking with the kids.
Fearless Leader is awesome with the kids (she’s a mom), she got down on their level was so funny: “Do you want to color? How about legos? You look like a lego guy.” I had to turn away to laugh. I think I dated a guy once who was a “lego kind of guy.”
Everyone cleaned up and it was Bible Story time about how Jesus loves kids, kids in other parts of the world, and how they celebrate Jesus. It’s hard to get them all to sit still and not talk. Or fight. Or redo their hair. One kid took his shoe off and he was wearing Illini socks (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois represent!). He was from Illinois, too. But in our conversation over tying shoes, I learned that Illinois was 7 hours away from North Carolina (its actually 18, I drove it) and he was there with his cousins and there was snow. He wasn’t sure what town they were in. Classic.
The snacks, the coloring, the music – it was pretty cool. I warmed up to the kids and they warmed up to me. One cute little girl came up to me to tell me that this boy burped and didn’t say “Excuse me.” Heehee. Ah, boys. I told her that’s how boys are sometimes…..what do you say? She was very serious about it. Our Fearless Leader had to remind me to break up some bickering boys – I don’t know what battles to fight! I’m so inept at times with kids. It was an experience, tho, and I did enjoy myself. I had to run to work right after, but my spirits were lifted and I had a big ‘ol smile on my face.
“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)