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When I was asked to be the music teacher for all of the children in our congregation who were under twelve years old, I was scared to death. I had never led music before. In our church, we call the organization that works with children of that age “primary.” The woman who was the primary leader told me the most important thing was to just love the children.
That was the one thing I knew I could do. I loved the children, and after I learned to let go of my fear of making a fool of myself, it became the greatest assignment of my life. That is not to say that I didn’t still make a fool of myself. I just learned that it didn’t matter to the children when I did.
One spring I decided we should sing a few songs for the season. We had just finished singing a song about baby animals being born and how life was new, when a little four-year-old boy raised his hand.
“Yes, Jeremy,” I said. “What do you want?”
“Baby animals don’t just get born in the springtime,” he said.
“That’s true,” I replied. “Baby animals are born all year long.”
“Did you know our dog had puppies last fall?” Jeremy asked.
“No, I didn’t,” I replied. “I’m sure that was a lot of fun.”
“And I got to see baby chicks hatch this last winter,” Jeremy added. “They were all fuzzy and cute and barely fit in the egg.”
“Watching a baby chick being born is really amazing, isn’t it?” I said.
“I asked my dad how the baby chick got into the egg,” Jeremy said. “The eggs we eat don’t have any baby chicks in them. My dad explained to me all about how animals get born and why the baby birds were in there.”
I was sure that this was quickly turning into a lesson on the birds and the bees, and that was the last thing I wanted to talk about during music time for children, especially at church. I decided that I should try to change the subject.
“That’s nice that you and your dad had a good talk about it,” I said. “How about we sing another song about springtime?”
“But don’t you want to know about how baby chicks get in the eggs?” Jeremy asked.
“Well, that is probably something that is special and should be shared just between you and your dad,” I replied.
But Jeremy was not to be dissuaded. He wanted to impart his newfound knowledge.
“My dad said that when a person just has hens, there can’t be any baby chicks,” Jeremy said. “Did you know that?”
“Uh, yes, Jeremy,” I replied, “I did know that.”
“My dad said that a person has to have a rooster,” Jeremy said.
“How about we sing a song about growing gardens and how God gives us sunshine and rain to make them grow?” I interjected.
But Jeremy didn’t miss a beat. “That’s why we don’t have any eggs with chicks in them,” he said, “because we don’t have any roosters.”
“That too bad,” I replied. “Well, let’s sing . . .”
“So, you see,” Jeremy interrupted, “the eggs the hens lay don’t have baby chicks in them, and that’s why we eat those eggs. It’s only the eggs that roosters lay that have the baby chicks. I think that after our hens get old and die, the next time we should get all roosters so we can have rooster eggs and have baby chicks.”
I smiled. “I guess you’ll have to take that up with your dad, Jeremy.”
It truly is amazing the things a person can learn from children.