Monday, September 21, 2009

Memories of Primary

Tonight I was thinking of the 6 or 7 years that Mike and I taught Primary. In our church, Primary is the 2-hr children's program on Sundays for kids ages 3 to 11. Once they turn 12, as Tanner did last week, they get booted up to either Priesthood or Young Women's.

Mike and I LOVED teaching primary - especially the 4 year olds. Four year olds are awesome. They tell you things their parents would be horrified to know ever left the house. I took my sister-in-law's advice to her elementary school students' parents to heart: you don't believe everything your student tells you about me, and I won't believe everything she tells me about you.

Four year olds give great answers to questions. Like when we asked, "Where did you live before you were born?" and one exuberant Lone-Star-State-transplant yelled, "TEXAS!!" (We were going for heaven; apparently, to him they're one in the same.)

Then there was the time we were teaching 7 year olds, and when asked to relate what he felt were the biggest blessings in his life, one little guy surprised the heck out of himself when he went to say, "my little brothers" and found himself all choked up, on the verge of tears, only able to croak out the words. He wasn't quite sure what had just happened to him. Bless his little heart.

Teaching Primary is great because the kids never get tired of putting on paper-bag crowns and ears, and acting out Daniel in the Lion's Den. And I would get to crawl around on the floor in a skirt, roaring and snarling, week after week. Now, I ask you, can you ask for more than that when all the other adults have to sit in padded chairs with their legs primly crossed?

The downside to teaching the littlest Primary kids can be summed up in 5 words: Christmas Morning and Easter Sunday. Sure, the music is always fabulous, the lessons are soul-stirring, the spirit is strong and all of the precious little ones are resplendent in their holiday finery.

But, oh, the holiday tummies are just the worst.

See, there are only two days of the year that moms and dads let their little ones eat candy for breakfast. And, oh, the carnage. Their tummies get rumbly and gurgly. Come Primary time, they don't feel so good. So, they crawl up into your lap and snuggle down. And toot the sourest stinkers you ever smelled.

They don't own up, they don't get embarrassed, they just snuggle deeper in your lap with their eyes drooping, sucking on their fingers, miserably waiting for church to be over so they can go home and raid their stockings or Easter baskets once more. Meanwhile, your eyes are watering and you don't want to open your mouth to sing along with the chorister because you fear you'll accidentally take a deep breath.

Mike and I don't teach Primary anymore, but I love the chances I get to substitute in my kids' classes when their regular teachers are gone, or conduct the music when the music leader is absent. I always hope my kids are secretly smug when they have me in their classes or see me standing at the front leading the songs.

Then, I think of when my Mom was up there in the front of the Primary room when I was a little girl in Primary. And then I think of my 3 strongest memories of Primary as a child:

1. Mom was sitting in the front with the Primary presidency, facing all of us little children. I was in the front row, which probably means I was a 3- or 4-year-old "Sunbeam," as we were called back then. My best friend in the world (whose name I can't remember) had just told me that she didn't have any panties on. So, of course, I leaned over and checked. I'd never seen Mom make that mad face at Primary before.

2. We picked up our nighttime babysitter, Sissy, to take her to Primary with us. As we were pulling away from Sissy's house in our grey Nova on that cold Ohio day, I looked through the rear window of the car and had just enough time to wonder why the bunny rabbits were hanging from the clothesline, when Sissy's grumpy dad and mean little brother grabbed those bunnies and ripped the fur right straight down and off those now dangling pink carcasses in one swift motion. I quickly turned around in my seat and never told a soul what I had just seen.

3. Finally, every time we sang the line in the song "I Am a Child of God" that says, " live with Him some day," I always thought of Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup, my very favorite. And I felt warm and full inside. Just like I did most days at Primary.

To quote one of the finest story tellers of all time, "...that's all I have to say about that."

Love from the farm,

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