By Stephanie Lanman
In today’s church, most Sunday school and nursery teachers are underappreciated.
Volunteering your Sunday morning away and watching someone’s snotty-nosed kid for an hour is hard work, and not many people realize this.
There is always Nursery Worker Appreciation Day, but I think that those who serve parents in the church deserve more credit than that.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and taught Sunday school like a child. When I was older, I was not much better.
I started helping with Sunday school when I was 13-years-old because my mom thought it would be “a good experience.”
My experience mostly consisted of staring out the door’s window, hoping the smokin’ hot, prepubescent Daniel Forrest would walk by. It was hard work.
The next year, I graduated to working in the nursery. Here, I was in charge of several babies at a time, which was rather stressful. I was horrified – what if Christian Brackett saw me changing this kid’s soiled diaper? Once I became so distracted, I forgot babies can’t sit up by themselves and I let a 2-month-old fall over and hit his head.
The new youth pastor was not pleased that his child had a head injury.
A few years later, I moved on to expounding upon the complexities of the Flood. It was hard to explain to children why all the bunnies and squirrels had to die. Of course, the ark would not be complete without characters from the television show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I had a difficult time trying to convince the 4-year-old girls that Rainbow Dash, was in fact, not on the ark.
Magical ponies with wings obviously do not travel by boat.
I have witnessed children throwing themselves on the floor, vomiting into crayon boxes, and cutting their hair with safety scissors.
When a child misbehaves, it takes everything you have inside you to remember that it is not your child and they do not respond to sarcasm.
Not only that, but the stress of having to photocopy age-appropriate lesson plans and separate fights over coloring pages can take a lot out of a person.
I would recommend that churches encourage more of their congregation to get involved in their Sunday school programs so 10% of the people are not watching 90% of the babies. Alternatively, maybe churches should give nursery workers coffee vouchers; caffeine can dull the pain.
I don’t think that getting a rose on Nursery Worker Appreciation Day cuts it.
Eventually I moved on from my thankless task watching other people’s children and started working in the library.
None of the books talked back and no sixth grade boy laughed at me for changing a dirty diaper. All I had to deal with was older women in the church gossiping about how I would fail as a mother when I grew up.
Maybe a day will come when I will have the patience to deal with unruly children in the church, but it is not this day.