The thought of my kids going to Vacation Bible School scared the hell out of me.
Oh yeah, I said it. It’s not the religious lessons, the cutesy songs, the excessive use of glue sticks – it’s my kids. They’re like little, religious time bombs. I never know what they’re going to do or say; I just know it’s going to be loud, slightly inappropriate, and right in front of the priest.
Our history of religious inappropriateness goes back to our days in Alaska and David’s short tenure as a student of Moose Creek Baptist Preschool. It was religion the way only Baptists can do religion, which should have made my sprinkle-Baptized, Episcopal heart nervous. But things were going along fine until Easter. Easter, of course, is big. For weeks the students of Moose Creek Baptist Preschool sang songs about resurrection, colored pictures of butterflies, prepared Easter pageant costumes, and talked about Jesus coming back. They also, in an odd mash-up of religion and tradition, dyed Easter eggs and were on the look-out for a large rabbit. I’d like to think that if I’d known David longer (he’d only been around for about 3-4 years at this point), I’d have seen the little gears turning in his head. Instead, I was taken by complete surprise when I walked into his preschool room just in time to hear him declaring LOUDLY to his fundamentalist teacher, the pastor and a room full of other moms:
“We have to hide our Easter eggs because Jesus is coming back and he’s going TO TAKE THEM!!!”
(If you really think about it, it makes sense. He’d said, sang, and colored that Jesus is coming back for weeks; there was also a sudden emphasis on hiding eggs. It’s a logical conclusion.)
Fast forward to Christmas this past year. My children made their debut Christmas pageant performances as two angels and a shepherd. I think I was so distracted by their adorableness that I forgot to be on guard. Big mistake.
Before I could say “good will toward men,” my kids had done it again. They started a turf war. It was angels versus shepherds in an epic stand-off of tilted halos and confiscated shepherd’s staffs. I knew we were in trouble when I heard the angels chanting, “Get the shepherds! Get the shepherds!” from the Sunday school room.
I wish I could say I have no idea which angel and shepherd started the Nativity Battle of 2010 but it was pretty much, undeniably my blessed offspring. I’m not sure who won the war. But those adorable angels looked a bit smug at the front of the church.
This summer began a new adventure; David started to carry the Communion wine up to the front of the church. Or, as Emily describes it, “Mommy, David carried the stuff to the man!!!” So far so good – he takes this job very seriously. Except for last Sunday, when I had to tell him to stop sniffing the wine, a totally developmentally appropriate behavior. (Right?!?)
Enter Vacation Bible School. Despite our questionable past, it really went well. The girls sang cute songs, made fun crafts, and listened to some stories. My Dad played guitar and my mom sat around the pond gluing googly eyes onto frogs. (The theme was FROG’s – Forever Rely on God; or, as my mom said, “Finally! Rely on God!” She’s always had trouble with acronyms. Although it was about time those 3-7 year olds started relying a bit – finally!)
In the “older kids’” VBS, David learned about service as they went to a food pantry, picked produce from the community garden, and created care packages for soldiers. (Impressive VBS, no?)
Emily loved every single second of the experience. I knew she was absorbing what was being taught. I hoped she was learning some of those truths that will stick in your soul and transform into a simple, enduring strength and faith. So, I was feeling pretty confident today when I asked her what she learned at Vacation Bible School. She thought for a moment and told me:
“If you paint a rock green, it makes a good frog.”
Not all truths are profound. And, she’s right, those frogs were pretty cute.
However, later this afternoon, I was listening to her comfort her little sister when Molly fell off her bike. Emily hugged Molly and said, “Molly, you could talk to God to feel better and be brave. He’s always there for you even though you’re little.”
She got it. Amen.