Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oh Yes, They Did

Saturday we got a call from Seth Lucia, 2nd counselor in our ward's bishopric, and who we knew from Boulder as well. Would we mind coming to church a little early to meet with him? Sure, no problem.

Finally, I thought, we're getting callings. Two months of "vacation" from church responsibilities has been nice, but we're ready to have something to do. And the pressure's off because most of the hefty leadership callings have recently been filled. Will we get our dream callings? Ed's is nursery worker, mine is Enrichment committee. Or will we be blindsided by something unexpected like ward missionaries?

Saturday night we joked about it. Ed suggested if he wants to see us together, our calling will be together. But in a ward this large couples often share callings, like primary teachers. "Or nursery leaders," Ed said.

They wouldn't, you're thinking.

And that's your first mistake. It's ok, it was mine too.

They didn't, you say.

Oh yes, they did.

When Seth said it Ed broke into a huge grin; there were almost tears in his eyes he was so happy. My expression was probably somewhere between a cringe and a grimace. Seth noticed and asked if I was concerned about the isolation factor of serving in nursery. No, I answered. There are other opportunities to meet and be around people. It's more the being-around-so-many-little-kids factor, the exact reason Ed is excited. It's a new scene for him, just more of the same for me. But what surprised me even more than the calling itself was that as we sat with Seth and he asked if we would accept, I felt really good about it, excited even, and I heard myself say yes. The Spirit is a most mysterious power. And hey, at least it's not activities committee, which the nursery leaders we're replacing got!

So after sacrament meeting we went downstairs to nursery, and instead of dropping the girls off at the cabinet barrier, we entered with them. In retrospect we should have given them warning we were staying. We were just kind of in shock and hadn't thought to tell them we were their new teachers. As a result they were both confused and ridiculously weepy, clingy and whiney for the next 2 hours; the other nursery workers said they had never acted like that before.

Nursery is for 18 month to 3 year olds (they stay until the January after they turn 3). It lasts for almost 2 hours, while everyone else is in Sunday school and then Relief Society and Priesthood classes. Our ward has approximately 25 kids in nursery, and 8 adult workers (4 couples). We have three rooms at the end of a hallway to work with, and tons of toys. The first hour is spent on free play, with different stuff set up in each room like blocks, books, cars, coloring, playdough, etc. Then we clean up and divide the kids into 3 groups, one in each room. Every 10 minutes or so they rotate rooms - lesson, activity, snack. One couple is in charge of each room on a rotating basis, with the 4th couple getting a week off to attend the adult classes. That's the plan, anyway. The bishopric has assured us that if we need more help they will get it for us. A refreshing change from Bensonhurst! Ed assured them I will take them up on that, having been on the bishopric receiving end of things when I was primary president in New York.

I was immediately thinking, "How can I talk Katy into picking No Crying Nursery (blog) back up so I can mooch off her excellence even though she's not nursery leader anymore?" But then I learned there's a brand new nursery lesson manual called Behold Your Little Ones. Some of the lesson topics are the same, but more gospel oriented (no more "I am Thankful for Fish.") The lessons are also a little shorter, more user friendly and age appropriate, with the photographs and pictures right in the book instead of loose, and some new/updated lesson activities. Nice timing. Katy, you're off the hook.

Last night Ed and I were set apart, which is a blessing from someone in the bishopric in which you receive specific instructions/blessings/abilities pertinent to your calling. It was a remarkably spiritual experience that quelled any remaining reservations I was feeling.

In fact, there are only upsides, my setting apart blessing having addressed the perceived downside of getting burned out on kids. A few that Ed and I came up with are:

  • We get to serve together, something we've never gotten to do and may not get to do again for a long time. After the New York famine of barely seeing each other, even on Sunday because of callings or Ed's job, we get to be and work together, and even better, be together as a whole family.
  • Hello, there's snack.
  • It's a Sunday calling. That means no extra work during the week like meetings, activities, phone calls, etc. A little preparation in the way of lessons or activities, or occasionally finding a sub may be required, but it's not a big deal.
  • Suddenly the pressure's off to dress nicely for church. I mean, yeah, still dress up, but I'll be pulling the denim skirt back out, and Ed will be wearing trousers but not his nice suits.
  • Everyone shares the work. We will be in charge of the lesson every 4 weeks but even then there are two of us to do it. Everyone else in nursery is totally competent and willing to do their share.
  • There is something amazing about little kids - yes, there's some crying, some fighting, and developmental stuff like that. But they are super innocent and trusting, and remarkably spiritual as well. It's really an honor to spend the time with them and be trusted with their care and instruction.

So you see, Lindsay (our nursery leader in New York), what goes around comes around. We'll be on the floor and isolated from our new ward for the next year or so. I hope you have gotten out in the real world or will soon. It's a good place for us - one I didn't expect to be in or be happy about, but what do I know? I've never even made a jello salad.


SuperGabers - The Mom said...

Whew! I thought you were gonna say bishopric or something!

Lindsay said...

You guys will be great nursery leaders! I'm still in nursery, but Blake's not. He's the ward clerk now. (I can't remember...did that change happen before you left or after?) After a summer of me and Jeannie winging it on our own, they finally called someone else to help -- Patricia. But unfortunately they're moving to Utah in a few weeks. (Sad!) Luckily Henrike and Rich moved back and were never released, so they're in there now, too.

I have to say, though, that I'm in total love with the new nursery manual. It is fantastic! In fact, I could gush all day long about how fabulous I think that manual is...but I'll spare you. :)

Oh, and I wanted to say that I love the system your nursery's got going with all the stations and rotating. I am completely jealous that you've got enough manpower to keep something like that going. I'll just keep dreaming.... :)

tona said...

One of the things I loved about teaching nursery was how BASIC the lessons were. I loved that calling. You are teaching something you can get TOTALLY behind, because whatever it is, it's foundational. You don't go off into the ether of doctrine. You stay fully grounded & you keep it real. I felt like my testimony of the gospel essentials grew a lot during my nursery service, as did my love for those kids. Adored them. Course I didn't have any in there myself, but still, wow. Great calling. Don and I have never served in a calling together. You got that right listing it as one of the big upsides.

Just Katy said...

Good Luck! I'm very curious to know what you think of Behold Your Little Ones. The jury is still out on Aaron and my next calling. My dream calling is making materials for primary - not actually being in primary - you call me up and I'll make you any drawing or diagram you want. Too bad it's not a real calling.

cherry said...

Wow, really something new for you and Ed, now you don't only get to see Ed on Sunday but most importantly you are actually with him...serving with him...with a bonus of being around your kids too...what a great blessing!

MiaKatia said...

I am glad that you and Ed get to serve together. That seems really wonderful. I have always felt terrified of being called in to Primary. I just relate better to teens and adults. So when I was called a few weeks ago I accepted with tears streaming down my cheeks. But you know after I prayed about it I knew I would love it with all my heart and I do. I have the best bunch of kids. I think that is great that you are excited for your new calling.

Shells said...

Let me tell you all the reasons why you are lucky to have this calling in this ward:
1) They seem to really have their act together
2) You don't have to teach every week
3) You won't be the only reliable nursery leader so you end up in a class of 20 kids and you the ONLY one who knows what is going on
4) You have a reliable, and caring partner
5) You get snack - that really is important...'
6) You have friends and family (me, Katy, etc.) who just got out of Nursery and can share ideas
7) There is probably a time limit that they actually stick to

In all honestly, Nursery is great. It is hard work, you are isolated, but the kids are fantastic. My suggestions - steal ideas from Katy's old blog, get a box of stickers and paper, get playdough, have a list of songs ready to sing at all times, have fun books to read and a dedicated story/book time, and keep your eyes on the biters in the group. And most of all, have a nice long nap when you get home!!!

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