Or, why Jennifer was never invited to teach Sunday School again.
I believe the statute of limitations has expired and so I can tell the story.
Several years ago at a church we no longer attend, I was asked to teach a Sunday school class. It being the Sunday before Christmas, the regular teacher was out of town visiting family but had left the lesson plans. I’d never done it before, but why not? I can talk about 3 wise men and a star to a room full of 4-6 year olds, right?
The way this particular class worked, there were 3 stations, the craft station, the music station, and the actual lesson part (me!). The children were split into 3 groups, each starting at a different station. Each group contained about 7-12 kids.
My station was actually located inside a classroom so as not to be disturbed by the noise of the craft and music stations. I sat in a chair and directed the children to make themselves comfortable on the carpet squares arranged in a semi-circle around me so I could tell them a story.
Twelve little girls wearing the fluffiest, laciest, pinkest Sunday dresses settled in with wide, attentive eyes. They listened to every word as if I had magically morphed into a Pixar creation. They raised their hands and didn’t speak until called on.
I am a rock star, deftly explaining everything from mangers to frankincense and why sometimes telling a lie to a king is the right thing to do. This is pretty alright. I start thinking I should maybe do this more often. The bell rings and the little girls each insist on hugging me before moving on to their next station.
The next group takes a little more time settling into the semi-circle. They are more animated than the first group and are exuberant about the crafts they have just completed. They interrupt more than the first group, but they are still paying attention. I only have to confiscate one macaroni manger.
Alright, I think to myself. I handled that nicely. Maybe I really could do this. Fewer hugs at the bell this time, but we’ve run a bit over time and they need to hurry to the next station.
I open the door to admit the final batch of children. They are loud and boisterous, but I get them settled on their carpet squares.
And then the blond came in. He’s a cherubic looking boy with one shoe untied and Popsicle stick behind his ear. He has taken a running start. He bursts into the room with a wail of a scalded banshee, targets an unoccupied square of carpet, pounces on it and rides it across the linoleum to the opposite end of the room. I congratulate him on his dramatic entrance and tell him to join the other students.
He starts an epic Popsicle stick war with the felt Jesus on the wall. I have lost my audience. I explain that there are probably more appropriate ways to address our Lord and Savior than as a ‘dirty landlubber,’ but at least now I understood the game. I confiscated his Popsicle cutlass and directed the littlest swashbuckler back to the story circle.
He followed my directions with gusto! And by gusto I mean taking a running start and riding the carpet square to the other side of the room while challenging the other students to race. I abandoned the lesson plan and had them race in groups of three pretending to be wise men desperate to see the baby. Work with what you can, right?
Oh but this was not enough chaos for our tiny pirate! No!
I’m not entirely sure what happened next, but I do know that no macaroni manger made it out unscathed. I have now physically restrained the demon spawn in the grown up chair and am threatening to tie him to it before I hang him up by his toenails. I am speaking in that sharply accented whisper that we learn in super secret mom school. My mother’s voice is magically coming out of my mouth. His eyes are now the size of dinner plates and for one glorious moment he knows fear. My nose is one inch from his. Tears are just beginning to well up.
Yes, my precious! I have introduced discipline and nearly broken his will! Perhaps his future will not contain an orange jumpsuit and an ankle bracelet after all.
I am on camera.
It’s a live feed.
His parents are at the monitor.
They didn’t thank me. But I have yet to receive either a summons or a bill for his therapy, so I’m calling it a win-win.
Oh right, this is supposed to be a minefield Friday post. We’ll call this one the parenting advice edition. Well disciplined children have nothing to fear from Sunday School teachers.