Sunday, August 21st 2011
The 3s and Me

It was a gorgeous Sunday morning with 8 three year olds. I arrived to take the second shift and the nice woman who had the first hour and a half looked frazzled. She and a friend of hers had taught the first shift and she stood at the door wild-eyed and looking in the hallway for whoever was coming to relieve them.

One little girl in pink was in the corner, upset, three were listening to a story, and the rest were running around screaming.

“You will have… help, right?” As if they were abandoning me with a pack of wolves. Or a large group of unmanageable tigers. Or some other herd of beasts that would require me to have an able bodyguard.

They’re adorable, baby faced toddlers in preppy Sunday clothes and they calm right down when you suggest a fruit snack.  I was nice and did not laugh at her.

She nodded to the upset girl in the corner and said, “She’s resistant to… life… today. She’s been there awhile.”

“Oh, I’ve had days like that.” I scooped up the girl, told her she was particularly pretty today and complimented her pink shoes – in a whisper like it was our little secret – and she melted and giggled and told me all about why she liked her shoes, too,  and she was through being resistant to life for the rest of the morning.  Sometimes it really IS that simple.

I know how that teacher felt, though. Like the time I had to help out downstairs with the older kids. Nauseating. There is no rational explanation for why children singing songs with hand motions scares the crap out of me, but it does. Never again will I venture down there in the name of Jesus, God,  ministry, volunteering, or anything. I suspect that’s how the lady felt as she left the 8 three year olds behind in a Never To Return hasty run-walk toward the sanctuary.

Outside on the playground, one boy I’d never met before sat beside me and made many pronouncements about himself. I oohed and ahhed, admired and appreciated.

“I’m so strong I could pick up that slide.”

“I’m a fast runner.”

“I could climb that tree.”

“I could jump from here — to THERE.”

Finally, I asked him if he would get up and DO some of these things. It might be more fun. I’d do them with him if he wanted. He sighed. Leaned back. Said, “Nah.”

I do love a little 3 yr old boy in cowboy boots who can answer with a definite, “nah.” It cracks me up every time.

“You ever heard of the expression, ‘all talk and no action’?”  I asked him.

“Nope.”

“Okay then. It might be in your future. But you sit here. I’m going to go have fun. Will you come find me if you change your mind?”

He did, and I was glad.

He and I ended up picking the seeds out of dried seed pod things for another little boy and there was much discussion about the seeds and beanstalks and giants, and then everyone needed enough to take home and plant a few so the collection process went into overdrive and they all took home little brown seeds in their pockets.

I have no idea if they ever remember any of the Bible stories we talk about. That would be ideal, but I try not to worry about it. I just like hanging out with them. Or whatever class needs a sub that particular Sunday. Their stories and ideas are fantastically creative. Their mode of self expression is often beautifully direct and honest.  They’re entertaining and sweet, affectionate and curious, smart, funny, and so eager just to be heard.

Not that it’s always easy, but it is always worthwhile and rewarding. Today the little girl in pink said, “I’m ready for my snack. My tummy is the boss and it says NOW.” She put her hands on her hips and stared me down.

I smiled at her and said, “I hear ya, but your tummy is not the boss in this class. We’ll have a snack soon, though,” in my most laid-back So Not Intimidated By That So Give It Up voice.  She studied me for a minute and then happily went on her way. Because, again, sometimes it really IS that simple.

I’m so glad today was one of those days. But now, I need to go figure out dinner. My tummy is the boss, and it says NOW.

Nah.

I guess that only sounds right when you’re three.

 

~hm

1 Comment on “The 3s and Me”

1
Jan
August 22nd, 2011
9:28 am

Love it! Love how you “get it” that 3 yr olds need a certain kind of communication, and without it they are “resistant to life.” I think we all have certain age groups we click with, and other age groups…not so much. Personally, I love little ones, but middle school age — just can’t take it. I taught that age for two years before I gave up and moved on. So glad you had such a great Sunday morning.
Jan recently posted..Chihuahuas Are Like Potato Chips

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