The Crazies

7 Mar

“Oh, R”, I laughed to one of my co-teachers, after hearing her itemised list of which teachers sit with which grades and in which appointed places in the sprawling gym area, “we just sit with the crazies šŸ˜€ .”

I meant it. First grade can be pretty crazy and even crazier if you’ve been teaching adults for most of your professional and academic life! Strange little humming noises, five off-key tunes together, head-banging to nursery rhymes, a random trip to centre-stage, intense debates on why the sun has bigger muscles than the moon, on why your teacher is tall, and what your latest snot sculpture was – really, you name it… we’ve probably got it.

Some moments, in the middle of our guided reading workshops, I’ll hear ‘Twinkle twinkle… the fuuuuu-uhst NoEEEEERRRRRR… jingle bells jingle bells jingle bells jingle jingle bells jingle bells-one ‘ouse open say, YAY’. My co-teacher is patient. I admit to having said ‘Cut it out’ once. The selection of music depends on the season. The selection of fantasy story ideas also depends on the season, or whatever real thing has happened that can be moulded into magic. Yes, it’s pretty crazy.

It’s also pretty full of energy and affection. Affection that people learn to hold back in later years. Little children don’t, y’know – if they love you, then they just do. They’ll pick favourites. They will take sides. And they’re terribly loyal. And they depend on you to sort out anything from snot to bullying to romantic relationships (even when you can’t quite believe they have them). And any moment in the day, when they see you walk past, whether they are doing Math or Literacy or P.E. or recess, they will appreciate you in whatever way. The classroom or the chairs or the rules don’t constrain them. Or whether they’re in a different school and they have no classroom, or teacher, and they’re waiting for your time. You get introduced to their (real and imaginary) friends, their betrayals, their plotting and everything else inbetween. And just as you finish one station, and ask them to clean up their whiteboards, they’ll quickly scribble ‘I love you’ on it and show it to you shyly. And it short-circuits your thought processes (and your lesson plans!) incredibly quickly and leaves you only with a familiar, stupid grin. Funny – never had that effect on me with the adult learners!

I think that is what Jesus meant when he said this. I have, in my old Children’s Bible, an illustration of many different kids scrambling up on Jesus’ lap or responding as he makes them laugh with (I imagine) his stories. This is the God I know. The picture I carried with me for a long time, before I gave my life to him even. And all through my life in him, I’ve returned often to this sense of relief to be found in getting up there. Right by my father. Letting him make me laugh. This is the God we know.

They drive me crazy, yes. But the kids also trust me. Some of them, not all. Some of them are starting to consider other things. But when they do trust me – WOWZA! I feel so honoured.

And they’ll do the things I ask them to do. I might think of a zany activity like ‘Write about camping’ eeeerrrrr ‘under your tables’. It’s cool – it works for them to imagine the tent idea – and they remember the exercise for next time. We turn the lights off maybe… Or I make up rules like ‘Write your names on the whiteboard and I’ll come to you in turn’, so that they aren’t always following me and my co-teacher around the room. Sometimes I decide to go to where they’re at. And I’ll make up whacko actions. And they’ll do it – like touch your nose round your head. And sometimes I have a unit plan that I want to stretch over days because of some literacy skill or the other, and they’ll ask me why they can’t finish today – but for the most part, they’ll stick to my crazies.

Maybe that is the second reason Jesus said that and that. I know I posted about thinking Christianity – in thinking about God and seeking him in his word, the experience of an everyday, working relationship with God in complete obedience only becomes more real. I read this today, over at (in)courage. I almost copied it here and said nothing myself šŸ˜€

We sat with the crazies that day. And had them cheer for us every time we breathed. And chatter every time someone else breathed. Seriously, pretty intense. šŸ™‚

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