We just got back from Rose’s “Hero Day” in kindergarten. The family is invited to tell a little bit about their child, and the class gets to ask the kid a few questions. Dean came and my mom also met us there. The whole thing took only about ten minutes–less time than it had taken to get my preschoolers ready and into the car.
Rose’s teacher, Miss W., started with the kindergartners all sitting on their special squares on the rug and singing a “Hello” song. Then they sang a very short “Hero” song to Rose. As soon as the kids started singing, I had to fight back tears. I mean I really had to fight hard–I had to look away and think about something else for a few seconds, and I barely kept it together. Last year Mabel’s third grade teacher used music a lot in her teaching, and she organized several short concerts where the kids performed patriotic songs, Halloween songs, or Christmas songs, with loud, enthusiastic voices and elaborately choreographed actions. I cried at every one of those performances. I’ve been baffled by the fountainous nature of my tear ducts, and have wondered if it’s because I’m getting to be a sentimental old lady, or if it’s my messed-up endocrine system, or if it’s that I love my kids and am happy for them to get some positive attention. I’m sure all of those things play into it, but today I realized that it’s more than that: the kids’ enthusiasm and politeness reflects the genuine respect and care that their wonderful teachers have for them, and teaching kids in a caring way is a Godlike work. Anytime God’s work is being done, the Holy Ghost can be felt. So I’m not just responding to my hormones, but I’m feeling the Spirit in a kindergarten classroom, or in an elementary school gym.
Over the last few years Dean’s wanted our family to host get-togethers with the students he employs as researchers, but with my health problems and our crowded, messy home, I’ve been overwhelmed by the idea. This year we realized we would never do anything unless we simplified, so we invited the students out for an inexpensive meal* and then back to our house for a Family Home Evening. For the FHE lesson, we draped a blanket over the railing of the hallway that opens onto our living room, and Mabel and Rose performed a puppet show they’d made up, about a kid learning to enjoy doing service for others. Then for an activity we played a Pictionary-like game. The students really seemed to enjoy the evening, and so did my kids. This made sense for several reasons: my kids are cute and like attention, BYU students typically have strong family values, several of the students are already married and some have started their own families, and some were reminded of the families they’re currently living far away from. But besides all that, I think we all felt the Spirit. Of course the students saw the best side of us–we didn’t let them into the messier rooms of our house, and they didn’t witness any moments like the one this week where I wanted to disown one of my children after she used my Gingher embroidery scissors to cut craft wire. (I didn’t disown her, but I’m thinking of putting a padlock on my sewing room door and wearing the key on a chain around my neck.) But although what Dean’s students saw was only a pretty sliver of our whole far-from-perfect reality, it’s still a true sliver: Dean and I had kids as an act of faith, because we loved each other, loved God, and thought He’d bless our efforts to have a good family. He has, and the Spirit’s there to say that growing a family is a good and worthwhile thing to do.
Pretty slivers of a messy reality
*We took them to The Golden Corral, and, yes, Kristina, I did think of you.