A couple of weeks ago, I substituted in the four-year-old Sunday School class at my church. The regular teacher was in the Louisiana/Mississippi area helping Katrina relief and asked if I would fill in. I always look forward to working with this age group. They are like a Mastercard commercial...priceless.
My Mom taught 4s and 5s for years at our church and they were always her favorite age. Why? Because they are loving, honest, and like miniature adults. I've known preschoolers that I could have more intelligent conversations with than many men in my own peer group. Preschoolers are refreshing. Vibrant. And completely transparent. And, here are a few examples of why I love them...
...little girls love to giggle...Mr. Daustin (one of their favorite helpers) isn't afraid of sitting down and drawing pictures with them and making them laugh. A young, strapping college guy like Daustin even brings out the flirt in a four-year old. We remind them he is getting married in May, which may break the hearts of many four-year old little girls.
...a complex story that many adults don't believe, preschoolers do....Our story that day was on Creation. None of those sweet ones questioned how God could create the world. They heard me read it from the Bible, they know that's God's Word, and that's all they need to know. Some of their favorite parts of creation? Snow...flowers....and chicken.
...even preschoolers are touched by the latest national news....Ella immediately asked me during storytime where Miss Carolyn was. I explained where she was and what she was doing, when Ella quickly shared that her Daddy's school had broken in two (complete with hand motions). After asking her more specific questions to verify, her Daddy's high school was the school hit by tornadoes in Enterprise, Alabama. Her Mom told me later that they'd been praying for the people of Enterprise all week, so Ella had it on her mind.
...preschool boys have fragile egos...When storytime began and we all got into the circle, Josiah wanted to sit next to Brooke. Well, two other little boys are big friends of Josiah and immediately planted themselves on either side of him. As we herded the group in the circle and settled them down, Josiah began to cry. Not a whiny, 'I want my way' cry, but a sweet, 'I want Brooke to sit by me and like me' cry. Precious. After having Brooke openly confess to the group she was still Josiah's friend, we assured Josiah they could sit together during snack. And they did. Josiah, life with women doesn't get any easier, I'm afraid.
...the prayers of a preschooler are precious...At the end of our storytime, Miss Carolyn always lets each child pray, if they choose. This is one of my most favorite times. Some children passed, others prayed for their parents or siblings, and Ella prayed for the people in Enterprise whose homes fell all the way to the ground (complete with hand motions during prayer). Then there was a little girl who had visited for the first time. When I asked if she wanted to pray, she said yes. She had come with her half brother and I don't think had ever been in a Sunday School class, much less have heard about God. Her Dad is now bringing her to church when he has her on the weekends. She bowed her head and said, "I like chicken...chickens like dirt...I like flowers." It's not a theological dissertation on which came first, the chicken or the egg, but it was her childlike way of expressing herself in prayer. We had learned about God's creation...including dirt, flowers and chickens, and she decided to express her like for chicken and flowers....and the chicken's affection for dirt. You just had to envision God smiling at her bravery to pray.
Life sure is much simpler and sweeter through the eyes of a four-year old.