Friday, September 17, 2010

Things Change . . . but Not Really

Thanks to all of you for your awesome book recommendations . . . we're headed to the library, and I am armed with a fantastic list of books, and I can't wait to sink my teeth into some really intelligent reads.

My boys are on break from school right now -- oh, how I love this year round schedule! Just when we all started to tire of the daily school routine, the first grading period finished and we were given the gift of three weeks off.

I have some good post ideas, but find myself with little time to develop them, so for today, I'm digging into the archives. This was one of my first posts ever -- it garnered all of two comments and I think may have been read by a grand total of seven people (if I'm being generous). As I read it last night, I thought, wow, how things have changed. We have come so far from those three-kids-in-nursery days . . . but it's still the same kinds of things that stress me out, and I still see the same idiosyncratic behaviors in my kids, just a little more grown up. Here goes, from November 2008. (This one's for you, Megan.)

Today, there were 18 kids in the nursery at church. 18! It felt like Utah or something. At the beginning of Relief Society, Primary asked for volunteers to augment their staffing issues, 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?) Garrett flipped out because they had to stand at the table to color instead of sitting in chairs. Connor melted because I didn't finish coloring his picture the right way. Garrett 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!

Mason 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 Mason'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 Garrett 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 Connor 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.

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  1. 18 kids in Primary *would* be like Utah, if you were in someplace other than my branch. Where we have about 6 kids, most of them 18 month. It's awesome.

    I'm sure they will totally shape up someday. Just think, then you have the teenage years to look forward to!

  2. I remember this post :)

    I know how it feels, we've been having our rooms full at Nursery and Mission Friends, I feel I haven't been in a service in several weeks just by doing my nursery and mission friends duties.

    Isn't funny to look back and see how the same things still stress us out? I like to think that when years go by I won't mind "the little things" that upset me some days, who knows :)

  3. "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."

    Love it!

    I just got called into Primary. I always hoped that if I ever did, I at least wouldn't have to have my own child in class with me. But as it is, we only have 10 kids in the entire Primary and 3 of them are mine. I am in the presidency and man, are they awful when I'm in there! I really hope they don't act that way when I'm not...but we are definitely working on a few things now!

  4. LOL bi polar pseudo kindness.

    I'm excited to hear what you have to say about the books.

  5. I love nursery, as long as my kids are not involved. I sort-of asked to be released from primary chorister when my oldest entered primary because I knew things were going to be difficult. I have a love/hate relationship with the fact that my kids are worse when I'm around.

    I love the quirks you describe. The remind me of my three boys, a lot.

    Are you going to post book reviews?

  6. "pseudo-benevolence and the bipolar kindness/cruelty of preschoolers"

    Best line ever!

    In related news, we had a RS sign-up sheet for nursery people during activities. It specifically said that PARENTS of those in the nursery were requested to sign up.

    I'm no longer in that stage, so I passed the clipboard. And I think I might have cackled. Just a bit.

  7. I love how you took a tough day and turned it into a lesson for yourself. I think I likely would've gone home and eaten my kids' weight in chocolate...

  8. :) Kings looking over their subjects. I love it! And I love that you hoofed it down to the nursery. What a good woman.

  9. Have I mentioned lately that I miss you??

  10. Yeah, isn't the tyranny of preschoolers mind boggling?

    Bless those souls that love serving in nursery because there but for the grace of you-know-who go I.

  11. I'm enjoying reading your point of view here in your posts.....I'm a new reader but will be back to check out more!

  12. This is a great blog! I would really like to keep reading your blogs. Cant wait for the next post. Good blogs are hard to find!


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