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Sunday, September 02, 2007

I Don't Want to Teach Sunday School and I Love My Husband

But I'm not going to get a bumper sticker that says, "I Love My Husband." Have you seen those? They actually say, "I Love My Wife." What is it? Are these guys so hot that they feel the need to make sure the ladies know right away, as soon as they spot them behind the wheel of that Ford truck, that they don't have a chance? Just curious.

Anyhow, I don't like children. I like my children, I may even like your children, but children in large groups scare the hell out of me. Based on the fact that I'm a mother, people assume that I like children. I suppose it's a fair assumption, given that we have three. One or even two could be explained away by birth control failure, a couple of wild nights drinking or pressure from the grandparents. Three, on the other hand, makes it seem intentional. It also means that we owe those thankless volunteers who teach Sunday school, coach soccer, help with school art projects and do all sorts of annoying child type things. I did my best to avoid those things when I was a child and I like them even less now. But we owe them, because they have coached, taught and patronized our (three!) children. Now we must do the same for theirs, or risk looking really slack. Before I helped with Vacation Bible School this summer, I agreed to teach Sunday school in the fall and I told them my husband would help. Now I know why they get you to commit to Sunday School before Bible School.

Vacation Bible School was scary. I wasn't the teacher; I was a lowly assistant, along with a high school girl who was way better at it. I was in the fourth and fifth grade room. It was divided (by a natural process, not by the teachers) into two sections: one was a noisy, teeming mass of writhing monkeys, the other was a still photograph of super models, arms crossed, backs hunched, eyes rolling, who looked like they were ready for a cigarette break. Guess which half was male and which was female. I'm the parent of a writhing monkey, so I should have been prepared. I wasn't. The contrast between the boys and the girls was so extreme, and neither extreme was pretty. I spent the week dreading teaching them in September.

I love my husband because he isn't mad at me for saying yes when we were asked to teach Sunday School. He understands the pressure. He's grateful we were able to use my pregnancy as an excuse not to do it last year. But now that I'm not pregnant any more, we're stuck. In my darkest moments, I consider having a fourth child to get out of it, but that would catch up to us eventually.

I also love my husband for coaching each of our kids' soccer teams once, relieving me of any guilt I might feel over failure to volunteer for team mom duties. He can't do much about the guilt I feel for occasionally skipping games to go to Yoga, but he tries. Once in a blue moon, he'll skip a game to play tennis, just to make me feel better.

And I love him because, in the face of certain ruin, he rises up and takes charge. Like many other people (you know who you are!), I tend to put off doing things I don't want to do. What's the point of preparing early? If I die in a car wreck before Sunday School starts, I will have wasted precious time with my children, all for naught. Now that we're down to the wire, I'm in a bit of a panic. I opened the curriculum book, assuming there would be directions, with pictures, or a simple outline. Au contraire. As with many things involving children in this modern world, Sunday School has been infiltrated by overachievers and made into something far too complicated. This book is like a manual. For engineers. I remember when I was little. Every Sunday, we looked forward to hearing a Bible story and, every now and then, getting doughnuts. We showed up for two reasons: Our parents made us and there was always the chance of doughnuts.

The book filled me with cold dread. There were pages and pages of tiny print to read before I even got to the description of the first class. That was complicated, too, but I didn't actually get that far. I hurled the book across the kitchen at my husband, mumbling about past obligations (met by me, of course): cookies I had baked for school, pediatrician appointments I had attended and countless meals I had cooked. I pawned it off on him, shamelessly preying on his kindness and strange attraction to me.

My husband is a lot smarter than I am when it comes to homework type stuff, which is what this book was. He managed, after skimming the book over a meal and a beer, to come up with a brilliant lesson plan involving Star Wars. It sounds engaging, but more importantly, even if the kids hate it, it'll sound good to the grownups; we'll seem prepared and responsible. Not only do I adore my husband, I think he is the smartest, bravest man alive. I plan on bringing the doughnuts, which I'll throw at the kids much as I would throw a piece of raw meat at a lion who was about to eat me. Hmmmm...maybe I could use doughnuts as a metaphor for God when we get to the story about Daniel in the lions' den. And maybe this is why the lesson planning is best left to my valiant husband.

Namasté, y'all.

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