Being a Sunbeam is Hard.

We’ve spent the past year complaining a little sad that John would have to spend another year in nursery. His birthday is January 1, which means that since Sunday School is organized by calendar year, he’s always going to be the oldest in his class. And he has to wait all the way until his birthday before he gets to move on. I mean, nursery’s great and all—but he’s been one of the oldest kids in there, and all his friends (some of whom are just a few weeks older than he is) get to move on to Primary.

Well, not anymore! For all our complaining, our neighbor finally checked the handbook. A Primary kid gets to leave nursery and join the Sunbeams class when he’s 3. And they determine the age on January 1. As in, if he is 3 on January 1, he gets to go to Sunbeams. He made it by 1 day.

We’re so excited! John gets to go to Primary with his friends. (And John now gets confused and thinks he’s 4, since I kept telling him he got to go to Primary when he was 4. Explaining that Mom can be wrong is harder than I thought it would be.)

So we went to Primary with John yesterday. First he was sad that he wasn’t going to nursery. He loves nursery. Then he was rattled that he had new teachers. He loves his nursery teachers. And then he had to sit. still. in a row. with about 8 other kids. All of whom were also new to this experience. At one point I looked down the row to see one of the kids lying tummy-down on the floor, hands to his sides, with a glazed look on his poor, tired, chubby face. Sitting still is really boring when you’re used to snacks and toys.

Then, since John had a birthday recently, they did a spotlight and talked about him. His favorite color is (apparently) yellow, and he likes strawberry yogurt. And (since they asked me to tell them exactly how he answered the questions,) he knows he’s a child of God because his bike is big, and when he wants to help someone, he shouts, “Help! I’m lost!”

John, of course, was uneasy and cried through most of this. They gave him a birthday pencil, though, which helped. It’s nice to be appreciated. About halfway through Sharing Time, the teacher asked John to pick an object out of a bag. It was an object lesson, of course, but John found a lemon in there and wanted to eat it. Then he started asking for various foods, and we realized that since church starts at 11 this year, we were trying all these new experiences smack-dab in the middle of a lunch that John wasn’t eating. The poor kid acted like he was going to starve to death.

In class, his teachers asked him what things he was grateful for. “What do you like, John?”

(Sniff.) “I like…” (more sniffles.) “I like… a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…” (that shuddering, half-crying sniffle) “…and some veggie straws?” his voice went up toward the end, because he had started crying again at the thought of food he wasn’t eating.

So yeah. We have some progress to make here. We ended up spending most of Primary out in the hall, eating veggie straws we kaifed from the snack closet. And then we came home and he ate an entire bratwurst. I promise we feed the kid.

He’ll get better at it. And I don’t really have any obligations during Primary hour, so if he needs back-up, I can come in. And we discovered today at the doctor’s office that his Primary birthday pencil changes colors when you rub it—which was cool enough to get us happily through a doctor’s appointment—so if we really emphasize how great that pencil is, maybe the word “Primary” can still be a positive thing for the rest of the week. ♥

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Prophets, Sea Cucumbers, and Such

So I’m the Primary pianist at church, which means I get to sit in on the kids’ lessons each week, while I wait for singing time. From the piano bench, hidden behind the piano, I did Sudoku while the Junior Primary (ages 7 and under) answered questions timidly and quietly participated.

Then came Senior Primary. Senior Primary was like a shoebox full of squirrels and caffeine. I don’t know what these kids had to eat for breakfast, but it shouldn’t be legal. They were everywhere.

Discussion about following the prophet:
Teacher: Would you follow someone’s instructions if there was a really good reward?
Kid 1: A free Xbox!
Kid 2: Being president!
That Kid: I would do it if there were a baby dolphin made out of rubber diamonds.

Discussion about Noah:
Teacher: I don’t think Noah had to get the sea animals on the boat, because they could swim.
Kid 1 asks a question about being tortured for eternity.
Teacher: Kid 2, what did Kid 1 just ask?
Kid 2: … A question?
That Kid: What about sponges?
Teacher: They’re sea animals.
That Kid: What about sea cucumbers?
Teacher: They’re sea animals.
That Kid: But they’re also cucumbers.

Singing Time:
Teacher: What do you do in the springtime?
Kid 1: Step on flowers!

At some point, a little girl went up to put something on the board or pull something from a bag. I thought she was wearing a garter. On further investigation, it turned out to be a stuffed white monkey strapped to her leg.

I really hope they don’t release me from this calling. And I really hope they don’t call me to be a teacher. ♦

 

That Primary Kid

The Primary kids needed a pianist on Sunday, so I filled in. I’ve played piano for most of my life, so it’s easy enough for me to play children’s songs; plus, it gave me a reason to stay in church without having to pay attention in sunday school.

There’s always some chill time in Primary, because there’s a lesson before (or after) singing time. This one was on the ten commandments. I sat hidden behind the piano, sneaking goldfish crackers when the kids weren’t looking, and wondering how the teacher was going to cover “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (She talked about respecting your body, then said there would be more details when they were older.) I also enjoyed watching the kids tell a newer teacher all the wrong names when she asked which child was which.

At the start of the lesson, the teacher wanted to remind the kids that we obey God’s commandments to show we love Him. She started by asking, “Who do you love?” The junior kids were all about their parents, friends, baby siblings, etc. But the second time around – when she taught the senior kids – everyone was wisecracking and claiming they didn’t love anybody.

“Nobody?” she asked. “Really? You don’t love a single person in the whole world?” A few of the younger girls giggled and started chattering out of turn.

In the midst of the noise, that kid in the back row stood up and held something up between his thumb and forefinger. “This pufferfish!” he shouted emphatically. “I love this pufferfish!”

Maybe everybody’s just used to ignoring this kid, but somehow I think I was the only one who noticed. I was quietly dying behind the piano, trying not to laugh out loud as the teacher kept on smoothly with an explanation about how much God appreciates our obedience. This is why I volunteer for Primary. ♦

Space!

We were late to church on Sunday. Actually, we were on time, but because baby John is in the crawl-everywhere and talk-to-everybody stage (with or without intelligible syllables), we opted to pretend we were late and just stay in the foyer listening. It’s hard to chase a baby through the pews inconspicuously.

Oh, he’s crawling now, by the way. He’s been crawling for maybe a week and a half, and he’s just frustrated he can’t quite walk without help yet. This child is determined, and I need to clean everything off our floor at home before he eats it.

Anyway. I digress. John was gurgling his way around the floor in the foyer when a really sweet old lady came walking toward the doors. She paused in front of Jonathan, looking down and smiling at him. She looked up at us, then looked adoringly back at the baby.

“Space,” she said sweetly. Then she opened the door and left the building.

I smiled a little bit. I must have heard her wrong, I thought. I glanced over at Ethan. He had the same face. We looked after her, thinking she might come back and explain. She got in her car and drove off.

“Maybe she meant to say something about his face,” I said, and we both started laughing.

“Or maybe…”

Or maybe she’s just crazy. At least she liked the baby. ♦

Crippled For Life

Ethan was tossing the baby on Sunday. Not like, tossing him to someone else, or tossing him in the trash can – just tossing him up and down a little as he walked in the church hallways. Baby John thought it was the greatest thing ever. After a while, though, he puked all over Ethan, so Ethan decided that was enough of that.

While Ethan was walking around more calmly with the baby, an old man from another ward came up to him and stood close, whispering in his “talking-in-church” voice, “What you were doing earlier? Don’t ever do that.”

“What, tossing him?” Ethan asked, in his “we’re-in-the-hallway-and-don’t-have-to-whisper” voice.

“Yes,” whispered the old guy. “Don’t ever do that with a baby. I had a relative who was tossing his baby up in the air, and you know how babies just twist? Well, the baby twisted funny in the air, and he dropped him, and the baby was crippled for life. Crippled for life.”

Ethan held the baby a little tighter. “Um… thanks,” he said.  “I’ll keep that in mind.” And then he walked quickly away from the scary old man. ♦

I Just Found Hope in the Rising Youth.

Ethan and I were at our new (church) ward, waiting outside the bishop’s office to meet him. As we stood there waiting, we heard a 14-year-old boy calmly inform  his friend, “The place you are pressing is a pressure point called the kidney!” About two minutes after that, we saw a 10-year-old come running up to a grown man, push a wrapped loaf of bread into his chest, and yell in his best army voice: “Guard this bread with your heart!” Needless to say, we’re really excited about our new ward. And we really hope we’re going to be primary teachers. ♥

Thoughts on the Phrase, “One God”

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Growing up, I was always a little confused how there could be one God, but three Gods. There’s Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Who are separate. But there is only one God. How can that be?

I think many Christian denominations teach that this is actually one Being, working in three separate spheres. Mormon doctrine teaches that these are three separate Beings, who are united in their purpose. But this still confused me; the scriptures say very clearly that they are one – not three.

I think the answer – at least as far as I interpret it – is in 1 Corinthians 12. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ” (verse 12). A body is made up of several members, but they all act together to form one body. Follow that up with verse 14: “For the body is not one member, but many.” I don’t get all twisted around trying to figure out whether my right arm and my left arm are separate or not, just because I call them both “arm”. I have two grandmas and two grandpas, and a whole slough of cousins, but I don’t get frustrated trying to figure out whether they’re all the same person. The word “church” is singular, but that doesn’t mean there’s only one member. Why can’t there be three members of “God”?

I see God as a title, not as a person. The Godhead (or Trinity, if you will) functions like a council. God the Father, God the Son, and the Spirit of God can be separate Beings, while still working together toward the same goal – being one with one another. They all love us the same, and they all know how to help us the same, so they work together as one God for our salvation. I guess it’s the same as saying they’re one in purpose, but for some reason it makes infinitely more sense to me to say it that way. Probably because I had to figure it out on my own. ♦