Of all of the assignments that I have been asked to do at church, my favorite has always been in the nursery. The children range from 18 months to nearly four years old. They are so cute, and they think I am wonderful, unlike some of the adults who simply find me strange.
Children also tend to forget the stupid things a person does, while adults pretty much remember them forever, and even seem to have a more enhanced memory as time goes on. With children, if you spill all the red punch all over the carpet, leaving none to drink, they don’t call you Klutzy, and by the next week they have forgotten all about it. But with adults, after not seeing them for 50 years, you run into them clear across the world vacationing in the outbacks of Australia or something, and the first thing they will say is, “Hey, Klutzy, do you remember the time you spilled that red punch all over the carpet?”
Children also think it is neat if a person sits right down on the floor with them to play. They tell me I am the greatest because I can stack the biggest block tower without having it fall over. They admire my ability to build log cabins out of unequally sized sticks. They think I’m cool when I set up the long wood blocks like dominoes, in patterns for them to knock down. Granted, there is always one child that wants to knock over everything before it has reached its full potential, but I love to sit on the floor with the children and make repeated attempts.
I have also always felt I was very good at teaching these small children. I put together a lesson, and we have coloring and snacks and lots of stories.
On one particular Sunday, I had prepared what I thought was the perfect lesson. At the appropriate time, I gathered all of the children around me. We talked about sharing. I told them that when we share it makes us happy. I had lots of examples of how we could share by taking turns. I had a wonderful story about a boy sharing his toy cars with a friend. I had copied a paper for the children to color that showed a brother and a sister sharing toys with each other.
We took our time coloring it. I only set out enough crayons for each child to have one. In order to color with another crayon, the children had to trade. In this way I was teaching them to share with each other, and that by so doing they could eventually have all of the colors they wanted. At times they became slightly impatient, but soon they grasped the concept and did well.
Next came snacks. As I passed out the crackers, I told them that I was “sharing” my crackers with them, and sharing with them made me happy. When they wanted more, they would even ask, “Would you share another cracker with me, please?” Why, by the time we finished, I was sure I was probably the best teacher in the world.
After snacks it was again play time. I had brought, from home, a special toy horse for the children to ride on, which I told them I was “sharing” with them, and they could take turns sharing with each other. There was immediately a mad dash for it. One of the smaller boys got to it first and climbed on. He showed no inclination of relinquishing his position, no matter how much the other children tried to persuade him. At this point, one of the older girls picked up a teddy bear and walloped him good, knocking him from the horse. She immediately seized it and climbed aboard.
“Nelly!” I scolded her, “you can’t do that!”
It was then that I realized I still have a lot to learn about teaching children. Nelly put her little hands on her hips and glared at me. “I was just teaching him how to share like you told us!”