May 9th, 2007

The More Children, the Peacefuller: A Paradox

Another Tuesday, another catechism class gone by. This week I had two—yes, you read that right—kids.


Have I ever expanded on my theory that the more kids there are, the less trouble there actually is? My first year, I had 22 students (about 21 ½ of them boys; two Jacobs, a Jake, a Jack, and a Jason among them). We had a lot of fun. The next year, I had nine or so. They made me a little crazy. This year, I only have five. Last night, just two. And yes, they more than made up for the lack of their compadres.


They were Attention Boy and Troubled Girl (seriously, the issues these kids have to deal with!! It makes me feel positively like a Walton). Troubled Girl couldn’t keep her twitchy little fingers off her new Bible, which doesn’t sound like a problem in a catechism class—but it is. Take my word for it. Attention Boy was pretty well behaved. We had only one minor foray into the world of Star Wars, and he came back to Earth pretty quick.


This blessedly being nearly the end of the year, we pretty much reviewed what we discussed last week, and took it a little farther: parables. (Or, as Troubled Girl blurted out, “Polygons!”) Then we watched a movie about parables, and they could draw during the movie if they wanted.


Attention Boy is always very struck by moving pictures, and he sat there, mesmerized, until Troubled Girl snapped, “I thought you wanted to draw!” (So much for loving your neighbor, eh?) That made him feel torn, and every time his mouth started to drop open a little as he watched the movie, he shook his head and bent over his paper, only to straighten inexorably and stare at the movie again.


But eventually he got back to drawing. He loves to draw Biblical comics, heavy on the violence, but with very strong theological messages that he loves to explain at great length and in heavy detail.


This time around, he drew a battle scene. He wanted one group of people to be the Jewish people, and then we decided that maybe the other group of people could be Egyptians, and I took that as a great opportunity to explain the slavery, but he was so not interested. He really wanted to tell me how the bad guys had destroyed a church—which seemed like a good opportunity to explain that the ancient people who were battling in his comic were very unlikely to have churches with crosses on top of them. But Attention Boy wasn’t really interested in that, either.


So his comic got gorier and detaileder and bloodier and cooler, and then I said the thing they least like to hear.


“Okay,” I said slowly, “but is this about God?”


He smiled a secret smile, not looking at me, and said, “It isn’t but it is a little bit Miss D did I tell you about the battering ram?”


And I responded: “Attention Boy, this needs to be less about war. Can you make it more Bible-y?”


He smiled another secret smile and said, “Bible-y. I can make it more Bible-y.” He was already starting to draw. I could see where this was going to end up, but I couldn’t reprimand him for fear I’d start laughing and never be able to stop.


He drew a little stick figure holding a rectangle with a cross on it. The speech bubble said, “I have a Bible.”


“I have a Bible? That’s how you make it more Bible-y?” I’m grateful I didn’t start snorting, but Attention Boy could tell uncontrollable hilarity was just around the corner. (Such a softy I am.)


Did I mention that when I stepped out for three seconds to get drawing paper—after forbidding them mightily from killing each other—they were nowhere to be seen when I returned?


Where did everybody go?” I wailed. “Where are my children?”


That’s when the laughter exploded from behind the teacher’s desk, and the pair of them jumped out from their hiding spot.


“We were hiding and you didn’t know where we were and—” I have rarely seen Troubled Girl so excited.


“You said, ‘Where are my children?’ Miss D! You made me giggle!” Attention Boy reprimanded me.


Oh, yes, we learned a lot about the long and interesting history of our faith last night. On the plus side: no one fell out of his chair purposely (a favorite ploy of Troublemaker Boy’s), no one cried, and I giggled, too, all the way home.  

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