Monday, October 17, 2011

Teaching Primary is like...

Me & Them on Sunday afternoons

Sunday. Used to be my most favorite day of the week. Loved it so much I planned the rest of my week with the aim to get to my Sunday as quickly as possible.

Saturdays were completely devoted to getting ready for Sundays. White shirts bleached & hung out to dry. Black pants pressed & hung. Ties selected & stashed nearby. Dress selected & set aside with shoes & earrings matched up. Meals planned & purchased on Saturday so that no shopping would be required on Sunday. Scriptures placed near the door so they wouldn't get lost in the hustle to get to van.
Instead I've come to dread Saturday evenings because they mean Sunday Mornings. Sunday Mornings mean Sunday afternoons which means...
Church.
Which (until very recently) I actually liked attending a lot. 
Feeling uplifted by grammatically incorrect but spiritually charged talks, feeling offended by the untried knowledge of youth who know everything obviously but haven't experienced a damned nothing in their tender untied years & feeling loved by the ward members who don't know who I am, where I am from, what I am doing here or how it is that I've come to be sitting in the long middle row with my mother & children & niece & nephew.
Katz in Primary Class
What I don't actually like a lot is being obligated to teach a group of ill mannered, irreverent, way too smart for themselves seven going on twenty eight year olds. And it is an obligation, no matter what they say about it being voluntary. 
You got called. The answer to the call is ... Yes, I can. 
There's no question that I can.

The problem is do I want too? I'm not really sure that I want to keep on teaching gospel doctrine to children who haven't learned to sit & shut up. Seriously? Haven't the parents of these kids taught them how to behave?
But who am I to talk? My own eight year old is one of my students whom I regularly have to shoot the eyeball too during class & tell to sit down & shut up. More than once this year as his teacher I've had to stop teaching & tell him to his face,"You'd better stop that or else I'll see you - for reals- after class is done. Chapel or no chapel. Bishop or no bishop. I'll smack you a good one right here & now."
They suck the fun right out of my Sundays and yes, I would prefer to spend my time doing things I enjoy. Like say... Go to Relief Society so that I can debate gospel doctrine with women who have lots of doctrine & gospel to discuss. Or perhaps totally dig out from church & go hang out at the Mall. Which is something that I admit, my children & I did fairly recently. We got ready for church, we went to church - we couldn't find parking (what? were they giving away cash or something? Never saw every stall filled before. Except at a funeral) and so we left without stopping the truck or batting an eyelash.

Some times, you just need a break.
Let me tell you I don't really all that damn much enjoy being a Primary Teacher. I can only thank God that I am not in the primary presidency. God Loves Me - this I know. How would I ever survive the guilt of ditching a whole Primary unit so that I could eat Chinese Orange Chicken from Panda Express @ 50% off?

I've been told that teaching Primary is like Boot camp Gospel for Dummies. I know I'm a Dummy. I can admit that. There's a lot about our Gospel that I don't know. But why does it have to literally feel & sound like Boot camp? You doubt me? Ha! Email me for directions & time. Pick a Sunday. Any Sunday. From 1:15pm to 3pm - these little angels are all mine (and yours too!) if you accept the challenge. You can do it once? No biggie. So can I. You think you've got gospel man muscles? Let's see if you can do it for six months straight. Twenty kids. Toss in a White Sunday musical program. Lucky if the in-actives don't show up & you still will have about 15.

Outside of our Chapel
(I can hear you heading for the nearest exit already!)

I realize that I'll never learn the Gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in such a profound & simple & direct way than by teaching Primary. I realize that the person who gets the most from me teaching Primary - is me. But dammit! It's a very lot of work & time & patience.

I think about my class every day. I plan my lesson out - well actually I think about it & then try to figure out if the library has any correlating coloring pages I can give them to kill off that last ten minutes of class time. I think about my inactive kids & how I miss them & try to figure out what can I do to let them know I love & miss them without being That pushy Primary Goody two shoes Molly Mormon teacher?

As an aside note to the powers that be: please please please do not call me as a Seminary teacher. 4am is too early in my day to wake up to teach every Monday to Friday. I didn't even really make it to Seminary as a student, I highly doubt that being a teacher of it will get me there any more promptly.

(I may show up on Fridays for Kokorice & bread though)

The point of this being: I had to sincerely pray about it. Not about if this is what I ought to be doing - because I know that it is. I had to pray for endurance, to keep on going especially right now when what I want to do is sit this song out. And the Lord, as He always does for me, answered in such a swift way that I couldn't miss it.

Sitting in Sharing Time with my class sitting in the back row, I tuned them out so I could jot some notes regarding a future blog. Then it was music time & the chorister flipped up her chart with the words for the song; Pray in Faith.

I'm sure I've heard it before & I'm sure I've sung it before. But singing it with my class yesterday, I got all watered up & my voice choked on the He hears & answers me. Because I know He does. Always. He just doesn't always give me the answers I want but they are always what I needed.


While I was singing & trying hard not to cry, my little classmate had put his head on my lap so I could rub his back. He looked up at me with the biggest smile and said,"Thanks Aunty. You give the best backrubs. I'm going to go sing now."

I took a big breath in & silently offered up a Thank You God. For blessing me with the chance to have little loudmouth happy angels touch my life & teach me that Heaven isn't going to be a quiet march in file funeral procession. Its going to be filled with the sounds of love & laughter with families shouting & sharing their joy at the sight of a beloved one. Reverence comes in many decibels & lessons. Not all of them are Shhhh! Be Still.

Pray In Faith
I kneel to pray ev’ry day.
I speak to Heav’nly Father.
He hears and answers me
When I pray in faith.

I begin by saying “Dear Heavenly Father”;
I thank him for blessings he sends;
Then humbly I ask him for things that I need,
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Words and music: Janice Kapp Perry, b. 1938
© 1987 by Janice Kapp Perry. This song may be copied for incidental, noncommercial church or home use.

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