Then we encountered something God knew we needed – a group of people that just wanted to love my son. Even though my husband still did his leadership gig at “the big church” – and still does – we began attending at a church a ways out from our house. We knew, at the very least, that it was where our son needed to be to heal and we saw this very quickly. His first few Sundays he didn’t trust his teachers for obvious reasons. And…you know what? They thought outside of the box… without even knowing what had happened to him. I found out that Mr. Zach, the youth pastor, was taking him out to the inflated moon bounce every Sunday morning… just the two of them while class was going on. Then, after my son would burn off some energy and see that he was loved and accepted, Mr. Zach would take him back to class.
After a while, I only got random messages (about once every few months) from an usher asking me to check on him. My son would often get excited during music and not be able to calm himself down afterward. I’d sit in class and remind him of his expected behavior. These events only happened on days when there was only one teacher and she couldn’t do it all. It was completely understandable to me. It was a wonderful season for my son that allowed him to see that there was a healthy environment for him to learn about the Lord, away from Mommy’s house, where he could trust the teachers and others to love him and expect good behavior as well.
Thankfully, his preschool school year helped to solidify this as well. God showed us a great school for our son and placed him with the most perfect teachers ever. His preschool teacher was an amazing balance of firmness and love. She saw all that he had inside him: leadership skills, intelligence, zeal, etc. but didn’t allow her love for him to cause her to neglect to be firm and not reward him for poor behavior. No matter how many times he got put in time out or didn’t get “a bug in his jar,” my son never – not once – felt unloved. I told her many times, “This is your calling. Don’t underestimate that for a moment.”
I was beginning to gain perspective that these were all the growing pains of dealing with many other people very unlike myself. These were the growing pains of being made aware of a growing dichotomy between how the church once did things and now do things. After all my children are 15 years apart.
Then my son visited that same church as his preschool, of where he was so successful, for its Vacation Bible School (his preschool was not at the same church of which we attend). On the very first day of pick-up (a day of which included excitement because it was the first day, meeting new friends, bouncie houses, dancing, etc.) the teacher welcomes me by saying, “He was disruptive during music, bumping people next to him while dancing, so I had to pull him out of music.” I didn’t even get a “Hello,” y’all. I swear I am not making that up. Can I just tell you that it was one of those days and I barely made it to the car before I began hiccup crying in front of my five-year-old? That was never my intention. I don’t like to argue in front of my kids. I certainly don’t like to cry in front of them. I’m not saying those things are bad I’m just saying they’re not who I am or, try to be, in front of my kids. Was it an overreaction? Yes – to this one incident. But my reaction was one of a working mom doing her best and getting a “bad report” yet again.
And…it ruined my day. It disappointed my son. It was Vacation. Bible. School. Why was there even in a behavior chart? It’s four days of bible, songs, and games. We didn’t even have a behavior chart at church camp where we stayed overnight, let alone any VBS I ever went to or taught! Is someone going to tell me they do that at camp now, too?!
The following morning I had gotten it together. I told the teacher calmly and even pleasantly (because I had allowed God to adjust my attitude), “Please remind him to stay in his personal bubble during music time and he won’t accidentally bump into his friends. If you have any problems, though, call me and I’ll come get him.” I think that she read from my body language that if that were the case, he wouldn’t be back. Her entire demeanor changed so I believed the very best.
I was pleased when I picked him up to find out that just as I had adjusted my attitude, the teacher had adjusted hers. She shared with me how all of the kids had learned about their personal bubbles and they all stayed in their own. She shared with me her appreciation for me teaching her about the whole “personal bubble” method. God is good!
I had to remind myself that Matthew 22:14 says that “many are called but few are chosen.” I think that every parent has to remind themselves of that when they place their children in others’ hands. I also did something that some may think a little odd but I put my son in a shirt that I bought him last year. I wanted his teacher to remember something about him just as God was reminding me (Matthew 22:14) about volunteers and teachers. His shirt said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Our children are. You know? Whether they’re perfect angels or being selfish. Whether you’re teaching a child that knows every single answer or you’re trying to teach that one kid that just acts as if he’s full of vinegar, God made them and He doesn’t make junk.
Come back tomorrow for the last installment of When Children’s Church Goes Wrong: who’s fault is it? I think it’s the most interesting and informative of them all! And…I have a surprise for you for staying with it through this whole series!