My week of working in vacation Bible school is behind me. It's a relief, of course. It was an exhausting struggle to get 4 (and sometimes 5) children out the door each morning by 8:00 and make sure they were all where they belonged once we arrived. Allison grumbled each time I woke her up. Clara cried progressively harder each morning when I handed her over to her teacher. The evenings were an ordeal of screaming and whining and bickering from missed naps and schedules thrown out the window. Many evenings Brandon worked on his homeschool until we went to bed. It's definitely a relief to be back to normal. Well...mostly.
Here's the thing. I loved it. I mean, I really loved it. No, not the tempest it threw our life into here. But the work, the job...the kids. I lead a group of 4th graders through their activities each day. Some of the kids were from underprivileged families, and some were from our church. It was gratifying to watch them change from the shy, reserved group they were on Monday to boisterous, affectionate kids. We danced together, and played together, and chatted about our days. On Friday I dressed as a pirate (the theme of our week) and encouraged the kids to join me.
Allison was amazed. She came to our room each afternoon and on Friday she said,
"Wow Mom, Your kids really love you!"
The bewilderment in her voice should have shocked me, but it didn't. This was easy. I knew how to do this: Love them, encourage them, play with them. Send them home. I wish parenting was that easy. At Bible school activities were planned for us. Activities that they could all enjoy because they were all in 4th grade. I didn't have to try to balance the needs and interests of 4 children at 4 vastly different ages and developmental stages. And while I did talk to them about love and values, I wasn't responsible for turning them into moral, responsible adults. I didn't have to make hard decisions on whether they could go on vacation with a friend whose parents I didn't know that well, or watch a movie that might be slightly inappropriate. I didn't have to try to balance running our home, homeschooling Brandon (another difficult decision for another blog) and so many other things with having fun. With being fun.
I wish this wasn't so. I wish that I could be the person I was this week with my own children. And sometimes I am, but I see now that those times are becoming more and more infrequent as I become bogged down in the details of parenting. So I am grateful to VBS for reminding me that sometimes parenting should just be about having fun.
I am also grateful for another hard-learned lesson this week. I learned that sometimes I need to say No.
Not, "No you can't do that, have that, eat that, wear that." I'm good at that. Sometimes I need to say
"No, I can't join you on the huge inflatable slide, because I am not 10 yrs old, and I am slightly overweight, and more than slightly out of shape".
Thank you to