In my church, we all share the responsibilities. We don’t have paid clergy in our congregations, and so we all pitch in. While I’ve been a member of my congregation for about seven months (crazy!), I was not given anything to do until just a couple of weeks ago, when I was asked if I would be willing to teach the 4-year-olds. I said yes. I was happy to have something to do. But I was also a little nervous.
As those of you who know me know, I adore children…the ones that are related to me. Other people’s kids? Not so much. Well, that’s not a blanket statement. I like children who belong to my friends, too. Needless to say, teaching a bunch of kids who belong to people I don’t know very well, if at all, made me a little nervous. I wondered, when I was asked to do this, if maybe it was my punishment for not liking all kids, or for judging some of their parents. (I try not to judge…but when you see parents totally ignoring their kids, it’s hard not to.)
So, on Sunday, when I got into sharing time and sat down next to my row of ELEVEN 4-year-olds, I was still a little overwhelmed. It was my first Sunday with them. My co-teacher was out of town. I’d never done this before and I didn’t even know these poor kids’ names. Not to mention that I knew, after sharing time, I was going to be spending 40 minutes with them attempting to teach them about God. Thankfully, the little girl I sat next to was as sweet as could be. I watched the kids. Some were acting out a little, but they are four and I was trying to be patient. Eventually, we were singing and smiling. Things were going along just fine. I sat there thinking to myself that this was going to be all right.
And then, sweet little Catherine* (the darling girl sitting next to me) looked up at me with tears welling up in her big puppy dog eyes. I don’t know if it’s from my years as an aunt or just instinct, but somehow I knew that she had had an accident. I asked her what was wrong and in a very small, very embarrassed voice she whispered that she had wet her pants.
Now, you might be thinking that this was going to be the end of me; I mean, I was already nervous about dealing with these kids (aka carrier monkeys) who don’t belong to me, and worried that I wouldn’t like them at all. But seeing this sweet little girl so sad just melted my heart. All I wanted to do was pick her up and give her a hug. (I didn’t. I have limits. I mean, life and death situations? Sure, I would have picked her up. But she’s not my flesh and blood and she was going to be fine.) I sent someone to go find her mom and I just kept telling her that it was no big deal. She was going to be fine. And it wasn’t and she was.
That one moment suddenly transformed these little 4-year-olds from scary little carrier monkeys into sweet little children who deserve every happiness and all the love there is to have. You’d think it would be the opposite, right? The rest of the day went off without a hitch. These eleven 4-year-olds are just about the best behaved (with the exception of one or two) 4-year-olds I have ever seen. Seriously. And even the ones who aren’t well behaved weren’t that bad.
When it was all over, and I was waiting with the last child for his dad to come get him, I realized that somehow I had seriously started to love each of these kids in less than two hours. I was shocked. I still am. And so very grateful. And to think it was all because one little girl had an accident.
*Name has been changed…she’s a 4-year-old and not mine.