The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Sunday, September 6, 2009]

Love Them

Laynie and I teach the 9- to 10-year-old class at church, and I just have to say how much I love those children. One of the children who has had trouble being appropriate has really turned a corner over the last two weeks, becoming less concerned with being cool and making people laugh and more concerned with learning the gospel. He is still a little goofball with tons of personality, who has had a tough life (a few weeks ago he was telling me how his mom's boyfriend was in the hospital with sequelae of alcoholism), but I am catching glimpses of the real him now, as he sincerely considers stories, concepts, and questions. Every now and then he whips out a piece of gospel knowledge that makes my head spin. THIS child knows that Jonah was annoyed when the people at Ninevah repented and the Lord spared them?? How curious. The Primary president didn't even know that. I will call this boy Square.

The other children include Circle, a smart girl who is hungry for knowledge and has excellent literacy skills but is shy about participating; Diamond, a girl whose personality is the opposite of Circle's--Diamond is blissfully unselfconscious and shares any thought that crosses her mind; Rectangle, a boy who struggles with impulse control and seems torn between being good and being cool (he tries to impress Square and the kids in the 10- to 12-year-old class by calling out disrespectful comments and giving silly answers to questions); and Dodecahedron, a sweet boy with moderate autism. Unfortunately his family does not make it to church often, but I have learned that he hates touching grass, he is highly concerned with time and schedules, his scalp itches all the time, and he knows everything there is to know about dinosaurs. Every now and then his eyes make fleeting contact with mine, and it is startling. It's the best.

I love these kids!

Today's lesson was on Zion's Camp. Square and Circle were the only children there today, and they enjoyed doing a role play of the Zion's Camp story. Then we talked about sea glass. I'm sure you're going, oh yeah, sea glass, that's an obvious metaphor. Not so much for 9- and 10-year-olds. They had never heard of sea glass before, although Square wants to buy some on eBay now. We talked about two pictures I had brought: one of sharp pieces of a broken bottle on sand and one of smooth sea glass. We discussed how that happens, and I asked why they thought I was talking about that, how it applied to today's lesson. Square made the connection! Yay! He was so excited when he realized that we are like the glass. But he couldn't think what the waves might represent. I asked Circle to look at the vocabulary words on the board (we always do a short "signing time" at the beginning of the lesson to preteach the vocabulary), and she correctly selected trials. Yay! At the end of the lesson, they got off on a tangent, asking for details about where we'll be and what we'll be doing after we die, about our heavenly parents, pre-earth life, and on and on. It was such a stimulating discussion, and they were both so earnestly seeking knowledge, that I let it go for a while before bringing them back to the lesson topic. I spend a lot of time communicating (or trying to communicate) with special needs preschoolers, so it's a treat for me to talk with typical fourth and fifth graders. They have wonderful insights and ask great questions.

The sweetest thing happened as I began the Zion's Camp story for the role play. I noticed Circle babbling with her hands, trying to copy the signs she recognized (I was signing and talking at the same time). Unfortunately she stopped when she realized that I had noticed her. But seriously... CUTE. Love her. Actually, that's what I wanted to blog about in the first place, but I got loquacious.


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