I sat on the soft red cushion on the back pew of the Scottsville Baptist Church and was impressed by all the children who filled the pews in front of me. There were Baptist and Episcopalians and Methodists and Presbyterians and Catholics. No matter the denomination, all of them were ready to partake in the festive and learning experience known as Vacation Bible School.
It seemed only yesterday my cousins and I were spending a week with my Grandma Mason and attending this very same Vacation Bible School. I recall Mrs. Glass, who had the patience of Job, helped us memorize the books of the Bible and assisted us in turning simple colored paper into extraordinary place mats. Piles of Popsicle sticks, Elmer’s glue, and corrugated cardboard was magically transformed into Noah’s ark. I remember singing “Jesus Loves Me” and “This Little Light of Mine” and being part of a final program in which I played Zachiah.
The patience that Mrs. Glass and the other teachers possessed was what I prayed for as I sat on the soft red cushion on the back pew of the Scottsville Baptist Church. I knew I would need a little spiritual and physical strength because this week I was going to be in charge of teaching 5- and 6-year-olds about serving and praising God. God willing.
Our theme this particular year was “Son Castle Faire”—a medieval theme comparing kings and servants of long ago with the present importance of being a good person and serving others and Jesus Christ the King. I had spent the previous weekend transforming cardboard carpet cylinders from Maxwell’s Furniture and refrigerator boxes from Doug’s Appliance Center into a makeshift castle at the front of the church. That was the easy part.
Now came the challenge of working with 5- and 6-year-olds. Of course, my daughters at the time were 19 and soon to be 21 so I had really forgotten what 5-and 6-year-olds were like.
I had forgotten about the independent streak in them that runs about as long as Interstate 81. Though they had only been alive a fraction as long as I had been, they still seemed to know quite a bit. Whether it was right or wrong, they still seemed to know quite a bit.
I had forgotten about their attention span that runs about as long as Langden Mason Boulevard which, as we all know, does not exist. When teaching little ones about the life of Christ, I used a lot of arm waving, exaggerated facial expressions, comical gyrations, and still I found myself being out staged by a bumble bee that had somehow made its way into our classroom and was taking a stroll across the window valance. The next day I was out staged by a moth on the ceiling and later in the week a spider on the chalkboard. I decided that a reading teacher who dressed up like a yellow jacket or common house fly could probably have this young group interpreting William Faulkner in a day or two.
I had also forgotten about their bathroom rituals.
“And what did Moses’ sister say to Pharaoh’s daughter after Moses’ basket was discovered floating in the river?” I asked. Ricky raised his hand. “Ricky?”
“I’ve gotta potty,” Ricky responded.