"These kids are between 2 and 4. I can do this", I thought. The children's program does run with a program from week to week, a glossy workbook with a dozen lessons drawn from the Bible, illustrated with "Miffy" style cartoons, and accompanying line templates for use in colouring in, games and so on.
It is entirely saccharine, and unbearably American, but it was the program and blast it, I was going to do my best to present it. Now where were we up to? Ah. Lesson Eight. I read the first line of the lesson plan, and no, I'm not making this up.
"Imagine Naaman's terror as he realised that the patch on his skin was Leprosy. It was a sentence to slow death (2Kings 5:1-16)"
Oh...Kay... It took me a minute to realise that this line is actually part of the teacher's preamble to the lesson, but really and truly this was the foundation of the study itself.
I ended up winging it and getting the kids to make crowns out of paper plates with the centres cut out and paddle-pop sticks glued around the edge like the Statue of Liberty. My scripture was "Receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised those who love Him" (James 1:12). I was pleased.
Observation which is undoubtably true for all time and across the Cosmos: Small children and PVA wood glue do not mix. Which is to say, they do mix, and all to well. Toddlers should come with warning labels for things like that.
I've got to say that the intellectual stimulation I got from wrangling that scripture with a bunch of three year olds had more meat to it than I've gained from a lot of paid pastors.
Take my three year old, for example. He's got absurdism down cold. When most of us argue with our kids then it's over something. My boy has grasped the nettle of the Nihilist Weltschmerz, even at his tender age, and has completely surpassed the need for an object to debate.
His new game goes like this:
(toddler walks into lounge room with revalatory sparkle in eye)
"Yes, my boy?"
"OK. OK. OK..." (pauses to draw breath for most important utterance ever made)
"You say 'No', and I say 'Yes'."
Me: (digests abstract significance of this suggestion) "...and, that's the game?"
Me: (sighs) "Ahem.... 'No.'"
Him: (delightedly and loudly) "YES!"
And so we go until The Wife is holding her ears and telling us we can stick our Weltschmerz where the sun don't shine. I don't know. Why can't I get my boy to take an interest in something useful, like superstring theory? I suppose there's always next week.