So my home congregation hosted our annual vacation bible school this week, and I taught the 2-4 year old class. My helpers and I had 7-8 preschoolers on each of the four nights, and it certainly made for some interesting post-class conversations.
The lessons themselves went pretty well, and I hope we were able to plug something into their heads that they might remember next week. But what will really stick with me are the shaking-my-head moments where I just had to think, “Out of the mouths of babes.”
Sunday night, we talked about how God created the world for mankind to live in. We read the creation account and matched up magnetic pieces of what was created with the day on which it was created.
No matter how many times I review this chart with them, the answer to “What did God make on the ## day?” was always “THE SUN!!” shouted by eight little voices. Even when it wasn’t the sun, it was always the sun. Except when it was fish. That we seemed to remember, too.
(bangs head against the wall)
Tuesday night, one little girl lifted the edge of my skirt and asked me why I wasn’t wearing shorts under my dress. She then had to prop her legs up on the table to show me that she was, in fact, wearing shorts under her dress because her mommy makes her. (Mental note on the importance of play shorts.) She then had to ask me if I was wearing panties and announce to the whole class that I didn’t wear my shorts but it was okay because I was wearing panties. Thank you, little girl. I was afraid no one would ask me about my underwear.
Tuesday is also the night we started “shaking out the wiggles” every 10-15 minutes just to keep our sanity. I’d have the whole group stand up and shake out their arms, legs and bodies until “all the wiggles were gone” and they could sit back down. On one such occasion, one little girl didn’t sit down with the others and instead looked like she was going to burst into tears.
“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.
“I didn’t get to shake all my wiggles out!!!!” she cried.
“Well ok then, shake them out!”
*proceeds to flail about as if having a seizure*
“Ok. I’m done now.” *bounces happily back to her seat*
(shaking my head)
Wednesday night we talked about the church as the body of Christ and introduced Mr. Potato Head as a visual example. I passed out the various body parts and we talked about what they do. (“Does a nose taste things? No. A nose smells things. What tastes things? etc etc…)
We then assembled Mr. Potato Head to show that all the body parts (i.e. Christians) must work together to form one whole body, with Christ as the head.
One little girl clapped her hands over her mouth.
“Mr. Potato Head doesn’t have any hair!” she exclaimed frantically.
“MR. POTATO HEAD DOESN’T HAVE ANY HAIR!!” she said again, on the verge of a meltdown because of this unfortunate situation.
“Ok, ok, let’s see what we have. … We don’t have any hair, but we do have a hat. Is that ok?” *puts hat on Mr. Potato Head*
*little girl tilts head right and left, considering*
“Okay. That’s good now.”
Did you notice I skipped Monday night?
That’s because Monday night was the best.
In the midst of discussing the Bible as God’s book of instructions, one little girl suddenly looks at me and stands up in her chair.
Pointing, she shouts, “YOU’VE GOT A BABY IN YOUR BELLY!!!”
*crickets chirp for a split second before eight voices all burst into a hundred simultaneous questions/observations*
“Why do you have a baby in your belly?” “How did the baby get there?” “Did you want to have a baby?” “Is it a boy baby or a girl baby?””My mommy had a baby in her belly.” “What is the baby’s name?” “Can I see the baby?” “Can I touch the baby?”
I stood like a deer in the headlights for a few moments and then desperately tried to turn any remaining attention span back to the topic at hand.
“Yes, I have a baby in my belly. But that’s not what we’re talking about right now. Right now, we’re talking about the Bible.”
After a few long minutes, the teacher for the evening and myself finally got them all back in their chairs and quieted down somewhat and returned to the lesson. That lasted about five minutes until the girl closest to me reached over and patted my stomach.
“There’s a baby in your belly, isn’t there?”
“Yes honey, but let’s listen to Miss Alli talk about the Bible right now.”
A few more minutes of attention. Then…
“So, did you eat the baby?”
That really did it.
It took every ounce of self-control I had not to burst out laughing. But even if I had, I don’t think anyone would have heard me because the kids all launched back into the questions that had obviously been circling their brains since the first outburst.
“Are you sure there’s a baby in there?” “How did it get there?” “Will it come out?”
And the ones who know me personally trying to explain the situation to the visitors:
“Mommy says Mrs. Erin has a baby in her belly. It will come out soon. I don’t know how it got there though.”
It was a long night.
Apparently the topic never quite faded away either, because at the end of the last night another little girl approached one of my class helpers (several years younger than me) and asked if she has a baby in her belly too.
I’m sure there are parents out there somewhere thanking me for the practical life lesson I unintentionally gave their four year old.
(Shaking my head.)