My first grade son started catechism classes yesterday, beginning to prepare for his first communion in two years. He seemed to have a good time, when he walked in several kids he'd met at vacation bible school this summer called out called out his name, and they all started acting silly together.
All the parents gathered outside for a meeting with the director of religious education at our parish. The children's ministry building is new this year for our parish, it had previously been a preschool, but our church took it over and renovated it so our kids now have space for classes and activities. Sorely needed. Several years ago I volunteered to teach a 5th grade catechism class, and we met in what is now a storage closet.
So behind this new building is a big play area, with shade, and most importantly, fences. While the director addressed all the parents, our couple dozen preschoolers, too young for catechism, played 40 feet away on the playground, close enough to watch but far enough to not interrupt grownup conversation. Surrounded by fences, and supervised by a couple of confirmation students.
The director told us he'll be leading a bible study for parents here in the back yard of the ministry building during all classes, and plans for us all to bring our young ones to play just as they did yesterday. I know he's always led those bible studies before, but I never considered going because they were always crowded into some corner of the church, and I knew my two girls would not be able to sit and color or play quietly indoors like that.
But now! My girls were so happy playing, and I looked around at all the moms, and seriously, I was afraid I might start crying. I am so looking forward to Thursday evenings now. To have all of my kids happily engaged, while I get to be in basically the best Book club ever with other parents struggling with the same lifestyle as mine . . . what a blessing! What a bonus to bringing my kid to catechism!
Last night, I couldn't get Jimmy to tell me anything about what they talked about in his class. I tried, but he said he didn't really want to talk about it. I suspect he was still processing the new classroom, the new teacher, the kids, and the workbook. Maybe he is at a loss as to how to sum up the lesson for the day. (Also, he lost a tooth right at bedtime, and may have been preoccupied with thoughts of the tooth fairy coming.)
But I think he'll be happy to return next Thursday. I know I will be.