Happy Sundays

Something I learned very early on in my child-caring days is that small people and hangovers do not mix. Little people just don’t understand the need to lie in a dark room in order to die slowly and their favourite form of communication involves loud noises and sudden movements, which is less than ideal if you’re of a sensitive disposition.

Once a month I work with the under 6’s at church, thus once a month a Saturday night is pretty much written off. Only a couple of times have I forgotten the golden rule that happy Sunday mornings follow sober Saturday nights and it hasn’t been pleasant.

This weekend I accidentally overdid it. I say ‘accidentally’ – the equation went something like this:
Last minute invitation to picnic + cider + limited food intake [despite ‘picnic’] + champagne + pepsi & rum = not fully compus mentus Lizzy

A large quantity of water, some paracetamol and a decent night’s sleep helped repair the damage, but yesterday morning was still a bit of a struggle. I sat on the tube trying to get my head round Jesus healing a man of leprosy (the designated story of the day) and wondering if the moral of the tale (‘Jesus can heal us’) couldn’t be applied to me as soon as possible.

Despite my fragility, my morning turned out to be rather lovely in a warm and fuzzy way. A good start was the free bacon sandwich I landed on arrival at church (pleasingly was also virtually perfect in crispiness). Even lovelier was when a small child informed me (whilst wearing a Christmas dress from Tesco – in June) that when she grew up she wanted to be Santa. But the crowning moment was when a nearly three-year old boy kissed my feet…

I probably should expand upon that last one.
The boy in question is an absolute sweetie and, though I don’t have favourites, on a hypothetical list he’d be near the top. During news time (a round-up of who’s been swimming or gone to parties) this child was attacking his big sister with kisses and licks – to the extent that she referred to him as a ‘lickosaurus’.

In trying to encourage him to stop, another adult said that if he wanted to kiss people he could kiss her. He then went round all the grown-ups and kissed the nearest bit of anatomy he could get to.  Unfortunately, his height now reaches the top of my legs, which meant that when he kissed me he ended up pretty much on my crotch. We won’t dwell on that…

A few minutes later, I was sat on a small chair intended for very small people, minus my shoes, whilst the children attentively listened to a story. Kissing child was not listening, instead he crawled around on his hands and knees. Reaching me, he approached my feet, slathering my toes with very wet kisses – it was rather reminiscent of a phase the family labrador went through. The other adults noticed and struggled to keep a straight face, I kept quiet so as not to distract the other, perfectly behaved children, but when he came round for a second go, the giggles were hard to smother.

Not only did I feel loved (albeit in a slightly worrying/gross way) but I also had the joy of informing our esteemed worship leader that his son’s developed a foot fetish…

Re-writing the Bible

The 10 Commandments are a pretty solid bit of Biblical teaching, aren’t they? I mean, most people, even without a church background, could probably name at least half of them (or at least ‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ass’…).

When I realised that it was the theme for my session with the under-6’s yesterday morning, my initial reaction was one of relief – a familiar story, rather than the occasionally spurious ones the notes come out with – plus, a fairly easy concept to get across to small people: there are rules, but it’s because ‘God helps us to know how he wants us to live’.

As I perused the various activity options, I noticed that the week’s accompanying activity sheet was mentioned as including a picture of people illustrating the 10 commandments. I was (naturally) intrigued…how would commandments #7 (adultery) and #6 (murder) be depicted??

Disappointingly, both were excluded. In fact, for the benefit of the tinies, the laws were re-written as:
1. Worship me.
2. Think about what I want first.
3. Smile when you say my name.
4. Have one special day a week.
5. Make your parents happy.
6. Be kind to other people.
7. Look after your family.
8. Ask before you take anything that’s not yours.
9. Always tell the truth.
10. Be glad for what God has given you.

Hmmm, nice and child friendly, but are we not meant to be teaching good Biblical knowledge too? Couldn’t we have left the decalogue until a more grown-up age?

In actual fact, yesterday could have done with some peacemakers and dragon slayers. One boy decided to build aerial bombers out of Lego in an attempt to destroy the Sullivanian Family home a group of children were happily furnishing – later he used Lego bricks as bombs – beautiful.

I spent much of the session steering clear of an imaginary dragon another child insisted was sat on the edge of the rug. Hopefully some of his imagination and creativity will have rubbed off on me…

Praise the Lord…with a banjo

Leading worship with the under 6’s is always a challenge. You don’t seem to have to have much talent in order to be asked to it, as I’ve been doing it for a while and can only remember the actions to three songs. Luckily, I’m only on duty once a month and kids have very short attention spans!

Today, we had live musical accompaniment in the form of a banjo. An inspired idea.

The kids were entranced (though the one who kept trying to twang the strings possibly was a little too into it) and it certainly added an unusual edge to “Jesus’ love is very wonderful”.

It’s going to be something of a disappointment to them next week when they have to return to the ‘Little Angels’ CD.

"How do we get the Baby Jesus to sleep?"

My monthly sessions with the under-6’s at church are an endless source of entertainment. I was particularly looking forward to Sunday as it’s the first time in 3 years that I’ve been on the rota the week before the Christingle service. This means one thing – nativity play rehearsals.
Zoom sessions always begin with 20 minutes of free play whilst the children settle and their parents leave. They can choose from colouring, lego, playdough, construction stuff, Thomas the Tank engine railtracks and a few other distractions. This week, two of the boys who would usually be Thomas fanatics instead decided to bond with a doll.
Not just any doll, this was Baby Jesus (always capitalised!), wrapped up in a wooden manger ready for the Nativity rehearsals. These lovely boys were fully aware of who the doll was meant to be and for the entire free time, they were completely enraptured with it.
When I wandered over to see what they were doing, they were trying to decide how to get him to sleep. One boy decided that because I’m a girl, I’d know what to do “because girls have babies and boys can’t”. The other informed me that because it was Baby Jesus, he was very well behaved and didn’t cry. Minutes later I was asked to provide something that could be used to feed him, because he was hungry.
By the time we were gathering the children together for news time, a flock of boys had gathered around the doll. The girls were more concerned with making glittery Christmas cards.

Photo courtesy of Whitewood Ladies on flickr.

So it turns out that (at least amongst this group) small children do not conform to society’s gender stereotypes. Not only do the boys like to take care of babies, but when having to decide whether to an Angel or a Shepherd in the play, we had a mixture of sexes in both categories.

I’m personally very much looking forward to the sight of boisterous boys dressed up in white robes and silver tinsel on Sunday!