Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Toddlers, Wood glue, Leprosy and Weltschmerz

I've always been brought up to believe that if something is worthwhile then you need to participate in it and not just attend it. Thus, my wife and I involve ourselves in the life of our local Church. Last Sunday I was on the video desk and my wife was running the toddler's program. Problem was, my wife was sick and no one could fill in for her. As I got up that morning, my wife gave me plaintive looks between bouts of volcanic upchucking, and she just knows I can't resist her when she does that. Metaphorically I felt tiny hands dragging me inexorably into the land of drool. I found someone to fill in on the computer for part of the service.

"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?"
"Yes. Go!"
Me: (sighs) "Ahem.... 'No.'"
Him: (delightedly and loudly) "YES!"
Me: "No."...

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My old friend,

I think back to our childhood, your parents property backing on to our families property, and I cant help but compare the somewhat well thought out ramblings of your genius addition to the species to a much younger version of one Nathan Zamprogno.
Very much an individual, always thinking two steps ahead, an incredible mind delivered by some fascinating biological phenomena ...... a true living treasure.