I was surprised when I realized something this morning. Not only did I get me and the kids on our way to church 15 minutes before 9:00am church (we usually shoot for 20 minutes early, so anyone out there that can't make it to 1:00 church on time should do some serious soul searching), but I realized that I was going 10 MPH over the speed limit to get there. Mind you, it's not to send my kids off and go sit quietly with other adults, but it's to get to the nursery.
I've been there about 7 months now, and from the beginning wanted to be there plenty early, knowing other people would get to church and need to drop their child off to be on their way for their own church duties. Jamie and I have had plenty of those "I can't stay and wait for the teacher" "well I can't stay and wait either" moments, so then one or the other ends up packing the little one around, trying to prepare for whatever they are about to do, checking every minute or two to see if a nursery leader arrived, and I didn't want to cause that. We passed a Relief Society presidency member getting her clan into the car on the way, and I was happy knowing I would be there waiting when she arrived.
When I was first called to the position I did some major pride swallowing. I was recently back from my second time on Wood Badge staff, was feeling super exited about training leaders and youth, and just wanted to be put to good use. I was even thinking about that the morning I got the message the bishop wanted to see me, and thought "Here it comes!" I don't know if my face visibly fell when he said nursery, but somehow I choked out a yes and here I am. I mentioned my feelings to the bishop's wife and she said, "You're there for a reason, I'm sure you'll figure it out."
I do get flashes of that, like the Sunday it was me and something like 15 kids waiting for one of the other four nursery leaders to get there. One got there 10 minutes late, two others about 20 minutes late, the fourth never showed that day. Makes me wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been there. The primary presidency would have been scrambling for substitutes, parents hanging out trying to keep things under control.
I had another flash at about 1:15 last night while cataloging all the songs that go with each lesson, sitting there wondering why I feel so over-zealous about things sometimes.
It's a pretty thankless job. At this age very few get that excited about their teacher since they would rather be with mom or dad, and a child that is grinning, talking happily to you, and even hugging you one week will fight with everything they've got to go in the next. Or you'll start patting yourself on the back for helping one one child get comfortable enough to stay consistantly without a fuss, and another who's been doing just fine all along will suddenly decide that nursery is worse than broccoli, and you run the previous weeks over in your mind trying to think of something that happened to trigger that. But hey, there are no small parts only small actors, right? We all need to do our duty to keep things rolling along.
But still, a quick heart-felt thank you note sometime would send your nursery leaders into serious shock. It's nice to feel a little connected to people outside our 3-minute lesson (if you have a lot of pictures), playdough infested carpet, marshmellow and fish crackers world. (I say that knowing that at least two of my nursery parents will read this, but you two are exempt since you visit me every month if not more.)
The children are certainly adorable, though. I'm with the youngest group so none are even 2 yet, and they don't hardly sing at all but they sure enjoy singing time. Most have this inherent desire to make their fish crackers swim in their water, which always cracks me up when we get a newbie in and they are the first one doing it (do they give each other the low down of how things work there?). The joy and wonder bubbles can bring to them is delightful.
I'll end with an out-of-the-mouths-of-babes moment. Today's lesson was on God having a plan for us. We talked about living with Heavenly Father before we came to earth, and now we have a family to help us learn and grow, and someday, if we choose the right, we can live with Heavenly Father again someday. The kids were being really quiet and sitting very well. Right as I finished saying we could live with Heavenly Father again someday, Erin yelled, "Yaaaaay!" One of the leaders asked if we had been planning that all morning. I was so surprised I almost couldn't stop laughing to finish the last thought or two I had. Those big spirits in little bodies probably know more than I do, but it's fun trying to be their teacher.