This past week I had the good fortune to participate in our church’s vacation bible school program. I did it because I love my church and really enjoy helping out there and because my friend Susan, who heads up the program, told me I was going to. Also, I absolutely adored VBS when I was a kid, so I wanted to help provide the experience for other kids. I’m so glad I did. I loved every minute of it, and I learned a lot. And, oh look! I got a blog post out of it. The Lord really does work miracles…
HOW I SPENT THE FIRST WEEK OF MY SUMMER VACATION, OR HOW I OVERCAME MY FEAR OF CHILDREN NOT MY OWN, OR WHAT I LEARNED WHILE PLAYING JESUS AND DRESSED IN A DECADES-OLD HOMEMADE CHURCH COSTUME THAT SMELLED LIKE A COMBINATION OF OLD SPICE, COVERED DISH SUPPERS AND MOTHBALLS
1. Surround yourself with people who know what the hell they’re doing. They can tell you what works and what most definitely does not. A good mentor never hurt anyone.
2. Don’t be afraid to act like you might know what the hell you’re doing either, even if you don’t. Speak up. Suggest things. A fresh approach never hurt anyone.
3. It’s very, very hard to throw away something you’ve laminated. Even if it’s 10 multi-colored fish cut up to look like a puzzle pieces with bible verses scrawled on their backs in your non-teacher handwriting that you will never, ever use again. They’re laminated, not bronzed, for Pete’s sake. Stop moving them around your work table and just THROW THEM AWAY. Free yoself, Miss Scarlett.
4. Sticky-tac, folks. Sticky-tac. It will affix anything to anything.
5. Blessed are the troublemakers. The same kid who makes every streamer in your room literally shake with fear any time he comes near them will later offer a perfectly beautiful explanation of what it means to be a “fisher of men” that will blow your mind.
6. Cursed are Internet lesson plans. Yes, it’s 10pm, and your brain much resembles a warm, squishy ball of sticky-tac. Yes, all you want to do is curl up in your chair and finish watching The Hatfields and McCoys with your husband and snicker together at Bill Paxton overacting his way through another movie. But take 20 minutes to make sure the bible verses your Internet lesson plan uses actually say what the writers of the lesson plan say they say. Otherwise you will be very embarrassed when the game you try to play with kids the next day quickly dissolves into a depressing pile of abandoned Adventure Bibles and crumpled clip art.
7. Full access to every supply closet in the church all week, friends. That is all.
8. Have a snack around 10:30am. This will prevent the massive blood sugar drop at 11am that keeps making you forget what you were saying and confusing the kids with random blank stares instead.
9. “Mrs. Langston” sounds weird when you hear it said out loud by 80 children.
10. Watching children actually learn what you teach them and have fun doing it is worth every minute you made a fool out of yourself playing Noah’s wife with a redneck accent or turning the story of Elisha and Naaman into an homage to Monty Python.
So, like I said, I learned a lot. And I’m gonna miss those little buggers next week. Not today. But next week.
I will also offer this: Chances are good that with my bachelor’s degree and all the education courses I took in college there would be very little I would have to do to get certified to teach in the state of Florida. I really, really liked teaching the 4th and 5th graders. That’s all I’m saying for now.