Me being earnest and churchy

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.

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11 Responses to Me being earnest and churchy

  1. TARA says:

    Awesome post!

    And some of my favorite BYU memories are a handful of times I was invited to a professor’s home for FHE. Can’t remember at all what any of those homes looked like – and I don’t even remember all of the professors. But I do remember feeling the Spirit each and every time – totally testimony building. Even when it was just for a more fun type activity. I’m glad you and Dean have figured out a way that works for you to create that kind of experience for others.

  2. Jen says:

    1. I like this post.

    2. The scissors: OOOOOOOOOOOH THE HORROR! THE HORROR!

  3. Megan says:

    Sometimes (like this week, for me) it’s nice to be reminded that even though family life isn’t perfect, or even nice, all the time, it is worthwhile. It’s been a hard week and so easy to forget all that stuff.

  4. zstitches says:

    Tara, thank you! I don’t remember going to many professors’ homes, but I sure did think they had their acts together better than we do. 🙂

    Jen, yes, that is just how I felt. She tried to deny any harm had been done, but I was (unfortunately) able to show her the nick in the blade and how they no longer close smoothly. I guess in addition to a padlock, I should probably show her where I keep the wire cutters.

    Megan, sorry you’ve had a hard week. Mine’s been up-and-down. The scissors incident wasn’t the only frustration on that particular day, and although I joke about it, I genuinely wasn’t enjoying parenthood very much that day.

  5. grandma weight says:

    let the tears flow! so happy that Rose has such a wonderful teacher! Any student would be lucky to be in your home. At one point in my life I realized that if I waited for my home to be clean to invite people over, I would never have anyone over.

  6. Virginia Wood says:

    Here’s the trick: Never invite over to your place those one or two people you know who keep their homes spotless and let the rest come and feel that you are, after all, a normal person. I know this is easier said than done. Our biggest disagreements (Barry & I) revolve around the fact that he invites everybody into any room in the house whenever and I am VERY selective about where I want people to go and when I want them to be there.

  7. Stephen says:

    I appreciate being let into your home via the photos posted. Thanks.

  8. This was so sweet. I have cried at several things at Emma’s school. I think I should write more about that kind of stuff. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Jason says:

    As your Grandpa Roy aged, he avoided speaking assignments because he cried so readily and effusively that he believed it became a distraction to listeners.

    When Lisa and I attended a Provo ward, a brother described me as “crying at the drop of a hat.”

    Sensitivity and emotionality are wonderful qualities…gifts!

  10. Lili says:

    Well there you go making me cry.

    I’m not even a mom, and I cry at every stinkin’ primary program I get to see (which mostly feature my nieces and nephews, since I’ve been in singles wards for way too long…) The further I am from home, the more the scenarios such as those you just described make me cry. I remember the primary presentation (all 3 kids!) in the Chichester ward nearly killed me.

  11. OhSusanna says:

    I cry every week in sharing time music every time I have a primary calling. Children singing primary songs enthusiastically is one of the purest distillations of the spirit.

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