Today, there were 18 kids in the nursery at church. 18! It felt like Utah or something. At the beginning of Relief Society, they asked for volunteers to help out since they were understaffed, and since my offspring account for fully one-sixth of all kids in the nursery, I felt obligated to comply. So my friend Mary Kay and I gathered up our belongings and hoofed it on down to little kid land.
Now, my children are not known for being great examples of reverence . . . or anything else spiritually commendable, but at 3, 3, and 2, what can you expect? I don't know what I expected. I thought they might be at least as good as they are at home. Apparently that was a little too much to ask.
The twins are the oldest kids in there, so for snack time, they sat at the head of the table, kings perusing their subjects with pseudo-benevolence and the bipolar kindness/cruelty of preschoolers. They fought -- loudly -- over who got to say the blessing on the snack, even after their teacher said repeatedly that the one who was the most reverent would earn the privilege. (I guess fighting over praying privileges could maybe qualify as spiritually commendable, right?) G-Dog flipped out because they had to stand at the table to color instead of sitting in chairs. ConMan melted because I didn't finish coloring his picture the right way. G-Dog stole crayons from other kids, and berated them for coloring on the wrong side of the paper, and policed everyone who wasn't doing what he thought they should be doing, including me. Too bad introspection isn't on the 3-year-old to-do list -- he might have had a couple personal problems of his own to police!
I'm sure I didn't help matters -- I mean, I'm not the authority figure in nursery. Who am I to tell them not to dip pretzels in their neighbor's water, especially if the nursery leader doesn't care (or chooses not to battle over little things like that because of the sheer number of kids and the ease of cleaning up the inevitable spilled water)? Who do they listen to? I don't want to undermine her authority, nor do I want to hold them to a higher standard than the rest of the kids . . . I have a lot to learn before I can be the room mother of a kindergarten class!
Lil' Maa-Maa wasn't so bad, but I did have to change his stinky diaper. When we returned to the nursery after de-pooping, he jumped through the door, threw his arms up, and said, "Ta-da!" The twins think they're the kings of the room, but Lil' Maa-Maa's got comedic timing all over his brothers.
So, in a fit of frustration, I asked the nursery leader if my kids were this awful every Sunday. She smiled and said, "Actually, today's a good day." Ha-ha, that's a funny joke, I know, they're great kids, aren't they? Oh, wait . . . what's that? Ah . . . you're not kidding. Guess we've got some work ahead of us before these little monsters are ready for Primary, or maybe it's the other way around.
Does my tithing money go towards abstinence education? Because I'd totally be willing to volunteer my children for parental-readiness reality checks. I think these services could be valuable to other demographics as well. Grandchildren coming to visit? Let my kids show you how child-proof your home isn't. Can't afford to pay a demolition crew for your remodel? Just tell my kids you need them to make sure not to destroy anything, and they'll do it for free -- plus PB&J for lunch, of course.
Well, I guess you just keep trying. I wish I could pre-experience for my kids -- that I could just, for example, tell G-Dog that no one wants to play with a bully without him having to experience that rejection for himself as an impetus to change his behavior; that I could convince ConMan that if he doesn't stand up for himself, other kids will always push him around, and avoid the other kids actually pushing him around. But without that first-person perspective, they won't ever learn anything . . . and neither will I.
So what did I learn today? That I'm not ever going back to the nursery again. Ever. Or at least not so long as I have kids in there. I'm much too happy being blissfully ignorant of double-trouble shenanigans to voluntarily deprive myself of the adult conversation and spiritual uplift of Relief Society.
And that we have to just keep doing the things that we're doing -- family prayer, FHE, reading scriptures with our kids (all three verses) -- because, like Nephi, " . . . we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins (2 Nephi 25:26)." And maybe, if we're consistent, and truly humbled by the magnitude of the spiritual potential inherent in each one of our children, we will see a little glimmer of hope, baby steps of spiritual progress, imperceptible day by day, but still moving us all forward in pursuit of our eternal goal.