I’m sitting in front of my computer, as usual, and I’m stunned as I realize that for the first time in probably 6 days, I am completely alone. The house is silent, my brain has turned down, my music is quietly playing. Although I would rather take advantage of these moments to have a little nap, I know that I need to write and debrief on what these last 6 days have been like.
It all started last week when Natalie was perusing our house calendar/schedule. Being the smartie pants that she is, she observed outloud: “Carly, I notice that you don’t work until the afternoon for most of the week next week. You need something to fill up those mornings, eh? How about helping me with Vacation Bible School?” I marveled at how she snuck that last comment in with the subtlety of a ninja with a sledgehammer. It was true, I did have all mornings free, but devoting 3 1/2 hours a day for 5 days to children I did not know and perhaps did not care to know was NOT at the top of my list.
Don’t get me wrong: I love children. I used to spend all of my time with them, when I couldn’t legally work anywhere else. They were my fun as well as my income. My friends had to silently roll their eyes and suffer through “the funniest stories ever of what so-and-so did today” and sometimes, getting a hug from a child was enough to make me tear up. 9 years of my life were kids, kids, kids.
Maybe my instant reaction was panic and revulsion because I had spent SO MUCH TIME that I was KIDDED OUT. That had been one of the reasons I was so happy to move away a year ago and meet new people, find new work.
But I think the deeper issue was fear. The only children I’d been exposed to in recent days were the horrific monsters at the mall that were created by their passive-aggressive parents; they constantly screamed for fries, hot dogs, ROOT BEEEEEEEEEEER and rides on the merry-go-round. They screamed louder when they didn’t get exactly what they wanted ON THE DOUBLE. Watching over these demon-spawn as they tried as hard as possible to burn down the church and make me lose my sanity was not how I wanted to spend my typically peaceful mornings. Yes, I was known as a bit of a master when it came to children, but it had been a year. I was rusty.
Against my better judgment, I said yes.
I was not prepared.
First of all, we were not at a church. We went to a neighbourhood in the Hart, to one of the biggest houses I’ve ever found myself in. It belongs to Monica, who was running the VBS, along with Kimi, Jaime and many other fine women. I arrived with Natalie, mentally drawing upon all the wonderfully kooky parts of my personality that enable me to walk into a room full of people I don’t know and make friends (in this case, an entire house).
Boy, am I glad I said yes. I am tired, my hair is crazy (appropo, since today was crazy hair day!), there are random spatches of glue, paint and glitter all over me, my appendages are dying from running around and carrying grade 1-3 kids all over creation because they simply did not want to leave me alone. And to my utter surprise, they were not the co-horts of hell that I expected. They were wonderful. They are my friends and I would gladly take all 12 of them again, as long as it included my positively angelic helper, Alyssa. She is on her way to becoming a beautiful young woman, inside and out. Couldn’t have done it without her.
There was Mattias. He is Alyssa’s little brother, and in my mind, I call him the Karate Kid because he is somewhat Asian and likes to wear a bandanna around his head while saying, “Hwah!” Today, this little sweetheart unexpectedly slipped his hand into mine and said, “I’m walking with YOU.”
Then there’s Joden, probably the quietest of them all – maybe due to the fact that his two front teeth are adorably missing and that makes small talk challenging. But I did get him to open up a little bit as the week went on, and found him to be quite the forthright little chap. Landon has quite the charming lisp and big imagination. I was sad to see him leave a little early today because he wasn’t feeling good.
Arianna is also quiet but possesses a delightful silly heart. She was one of my frequent lap-dwellers. I wish I had more to my body than just a lap and two knees. Macyn never wanted to leave my lap, it seemed. With her red hair and green eyes, and something about the shape of her face, she reminds me of Ginny Weasley. (In this episode of “It’s a Small World After All,” I learned that she is distantly related to my boss.) And now I realize that I’m about to make two Harry Potter references in a row; I apologize but I’m going to do it now just to get it out of the way. (I love HP, but I do like to stay original.) Kezia is Monica’s daughter, so of course she knew the house and the VBS inside out. Out of anyone, she’s the Hermione Granger of my group. Sometimes when I asked questions, I purposely ignored her eagerly raised hand just to give some other poor kid a turn but true to Hermione form, sometimes she was the only one who knew the answer. Jessica was only with us for two days before trotting off to Newfoundland or something crazy like that; man, was she a pixie pie. You haven’t seen adorable until you’ve seen a 6 year old girl’s pair of swirly flower-covered glasses. I was a little bit worried about Sarah at first because she was the youngest of the group and didn’t know how to write yet or keep up quite as well with everything else that was going on. But what she lacked in age and understanding, she certainly made up for in hugs.
Samuel, Timothy, Caleb and Andrew are what I call little lions in the making. They were always on the move, always observing, always leaving a slight path of destruction in their wake. I don’t quite understand boys like this yet, but I am drawn to them. They will be the movers and shakers of the future! And I am proud to say that I squeezed at least one willing hug out of them before they left. =)
One other person who crawled into my heart this week: a boy named Noah. He was one of the floaters of the week, someone who went from group to group to see if anyone in particular needed help. For some reason, we were buddies from the word go. I think in my heart, I have always longed for a little brother, and I have adopted a few along my journey, with great joy. I supremely enjoyed having Noah to pal around with, but yesterday I got quite the shock: this boy, this young man who is at least 3 inches taller than me, who has been so helpful to everyone, who I assumed was at least 15 years old…is only 11. ELEVEN. What are they feeding kids these days???
So in the past 5 days, one house was invaded by 50 people, where we sang songs, learned memory verses, laughed and chatted, made crafts, went for walks, played hand-clapping games (dum dum diddi, anyone?) and just generally had a hoot.
You may not care about any of these people that I spent my week with, and that’s okay. But I’m here to tell you: sometimes you just gotta say yes, even if you think you’re gonna hate it. If you choose your comfort zone over doing the right thing, GUARANTEED, YOUR COMFORT WILL BE CRAPPY. This week, I have laughed, cried, gotten dirty, gotten clean, restarted my heart and been stretched to love more than I had remembered I was capable of. By saying no, what could you possibly be missing out on? Give yes a try. =)
Unless, of course, you’re one of those compulsive people-pleasers who CAN’T say no. In that case, ignore everything I’ve just said.