Sunday, May 6, 2007

A day of rest, eh?

Well, this has been a good, generally mellow weekend. But it's just after 8 and I'm feeling pretty wiped out already. Sundays end up being a lot busier for us than I would like, mostly with church stuff.

Today, JC taught our class by himself, while I attempted to do some work on Girls' Day with TGS. More on those later...

After class, JC and I volunteered in the nursery during services. Sarah, who used to be in our class, came by to hang out. We should probably have scolded her for not staying in the auditorium, but she's such a pleasant kid, I couldn't bring myself to fuss at her. Nursery was pretty low-key. We only had two girls in there, both about eighteen months. One funny/sad thing--Haven, Amy's daughter, was sitting in the rocking chair. JC was standing on the other side of the room looking at some of the toys. Suddenly, Haven furrowed her brow, took her pacifier out of her mouth, pointed at him and said, "No daddies!" Whenever he tried to help her with something, she repeated that at him. Like, "There aren't supposed to be daddies in the nursery; why are you here?" She wasn't angry or anything, just completely perplexed.
"It's ok," I told her. "He's not anyone's daddy." She pretty much ignored that, or didn't understand it. I worry about the messages our church sends to children, especially girls. Why shouldn't men work in the nursery? JC's the only one on the list, and the lady who solicits volunteers for it asked me especially if JC would mind. "We notice that he watches the babies in church," she said. "I just need to fill one more slot, and none of the women are available. Do you think he would mind?"
JC grew up with three sisters, two of them younger than him. He loves babies--and yes, he definitely selects our seat in the assembly based almost exclusively on where the families with babies sit.
JC is good with babies. He loves them. I want to have babies one of these years, and I want him to be a good, involved, and diaper-changing father. Where else will young men learn these skills if we bar them from the nursery? There's the conflicting issue of...limiting women's roles mean that women defend their allowed roles very seriously. Men aren't allowed in the nursery because women want something that's theirs. That's sad, but understandable.

So, after church, we moved a lot of stuff around and traded classrooms with another teacher. Our classroom is too big--the kids just randomly get up and wander around. It also echoes a lot when they are noisy. The other teacher has younger kids--first- and second-graders, and often more of them (sometimes as many as 14, where we hardly ever have more than 4). It was a trade that made sense, and I think will serve both groups well. It was a lot of work, though, and I was exhausted by the end of it.

We came home, ate some lunch, and then realized that the cat was missing--much wailing and gnashing of teeth----and an hour later, we found her, where she had jumped into the neighbor's window, and the neighbor's five-year-old had closed the window because she likes our cat and wanted to keep her "just for today." Cat recovered, success! Then, a little reading together, some housework, and JC had to go to a finance meeting for church. In a few more weeks, we won't be teaching for a while, but we're still on a half-dozen committees, and of course, getting ready to move house at the end of May, and balancing career (writing for RS) with hoped-for-career (querying every magazine under the sun, on topics as diverse as CouchSurfing and visiting presidential towns). We're too busy right now, and I don't like that.

So, class. Here's JC's report. He had them draw connections between the miracles of Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, and the apostles. He was trying to get them to categorize the miracles a bit, and think about how these individuals prefigure each other. JC was surprised to discover that, although they could see the connections between, say, walking on water and parting the Red Sea, they didn't want to put them into a category of "miracles controlling water." Maybe it's just the small sampling in our class, or maybe kids that age just tend to be more splitters than lumpers. He said that he had fun with them--it was just Lachlan and Josh again, as I think Amanda spends some weekends with her dad. He had them draw a mind map about the miracles and the individuals, and they liked that a lot--they love to write on the whiteboard, and graphic organizers are great for getting them involved.

As for me...I had a much less satisfying experience with TGS this morning. We were supposed to be rehearsing the skit, but only four out of seven girls showed up, and only two of remembered their scripts. That was ok though, because there was a lot of other stuff we needed to do for Girls' Day. Angie, who is organizing it, said that she had to stay home that morning (I think one of her kids is under the weather), and she asked Amy and me to work with the girls on some of the planning that remained to be done for the Girls' Day. That's when things started to go very, very badly. "What have you guys done for planning Girls' Day?" we asked them. They shrugged.
"Angie just told us we were having Girls' Day, and that's the last we heard of it," Hanna said.
"Angie said that you were in charge of decorations," Amy tried. This was the first the girls had heard about it.
"What's our budget for decorations?" one of them asked.
"Since we don't know, basically nothing," Amy told her.
We tried to brain storm with them about a few things that we could do around the "princess" theme. Ideas included using things from people's homes (like my princess dream net), possibly asking recently-married people if they had any fancy things or lengths of tulle around or something. The girls were not excited, and why would they be? They weren't given any agency in this at all. Angie's concept for the Girls' Day was that the adults would plan it and the girls would just come. At my in-law's church, they've had a few Girl's Days, but always entirely planned and executed (including leading singing, teaching sessions, etc) by the girls. It was a great learning experience for JC's sisters. They realized how much goes into planning that kind of thing, and they began to think about church events in a different--and much more realistic--way. When I heard that our girls were doing a Girl's Day, I hoped it would be like that--but it's not. So we were stuck trying to work with them on an aspect of the project that they hadn't previously been involved in, and didn't want to do. They also worked on some sashes for our skit, and did a great job on that--because they wanted to. They got to design them themselves. Amy and I stayed out of it, just gave them the materials. They organized themselves, found additional materials, passed out jobs, and came out with beautiful sashes. They'll be proud of wearing them in the skit. They have ownership.

Dealing with this whole thing has been seriously challenging. I hope that the Girls' Day goes well, and that next time, the girls are encouraged to do more. As Amy said, "Sure, you put a fifteen-year-old in charge of food and you might only end up with peanut butter sandwiches, but she learns. And who knows, she might surprise you."

I'm glad Amy will be taking over my class for the summer. She's a great mom (and therefore is FAR more qualified than I am to teach!), and she shares my values about education in the church--not so much with the coloring sheets, yay for real scholarship. She understands very clearly our need to balance kids' need to be kids with their need to learn what it means to be an adult in our church community.

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