Friday, September 7, 2012

Holy Religious Education, Batman! You Want Me to Do WHAT???

Since their tender Pre-K years, El and Em have enjoyed going to Faith Formation classes at our church. (For you old-school Catholics, Faith Formation = CCD. For you Protestants, Faith Formation = Sunday School. For you of non-Christian upbringing, apply the analogous term of your understanding and we’ll call it a day.) The chid’rens eagerly carry their little folders to class, they learn some Catholic stuff, and then they happily emerge from the Religious Education building and proudly show us whatever religious artsy-craftsy thingy they made that day. They ask us if we can go straight to the Dairy Freeze across the street from the church, then they get all pouty and defiant when we inform them we are going to Mass before we even discuss lunch plans, you should have eaten your breakfast like we told you to, now is your chance to pee because we will NOT let you go during Mass, and don’t you roll your eyes at me, Young Ladies!
Every. Single. Week.
Over the summer, the Religious Education Director started calling for volunteers to fill the leftover teaching and assisting spots in this year’s Faith Formation program. One of those spots was for El’s grade. My initial response was, “I’m sure someone will step up soon.” As the the summer break began winding down, the calls for volunteers got more urgent. My thoughts turned to, “Huh. That's not good. Somebody really needs to step up! And soon! (not it!)” After a distress e-mail went out to all the Faith Formation parents last week, I started to think, “I wonder if I should call the church and see if I can somehow offer a vague form of helpishness in as noncommittal fashion as possible. Hmm, I’ll think about it some more... tomorrow.”
The very next day (that would be the “tomorrow," for those of you following the chain of events), I got a Facebook message from a friend at church who also happens to be teaching Faith Formation this year. She had attended the Catechist meeting the night before where the Director put out an SOS for help filling those last couple of spots. With only two weeks left until the start of Faith Formation, the Director was getting seriously concerned. For reasons that will be an eternal mystery to me, Church Friend said she immediately thought of me and Miracle Man. Obviously she doesn’t know us very well, because she thought we would be perfect for the job. She urged us to pray about it before deciding. Which is the Christian way of applying peer pressure what good Christians are supposed to do before they make any Big Decisions anyway.
Aw, crap. Now I’m directly confronted with the idea of ME being the person to step up and teach this class. ME??? Commanding the attention of 15 or so tweens who are supposed to learn important stuff from the words that are coming out of my mouth in a fashion that may or may not be coherent??? I can’t even successfully chaperone a Kindergarten field trip without a near-death experience, why would I even consider teaching a class? Besides, Faith Formation class is the usual time that I sit at Sweet Sues and sip coffee with my beloved as we comment on each other's Facebook statuses from across the table. It’s pretty much the only routine opportunity we have to sit together - just us - and stare at our phones. Why would I want to give that up?
See, now here is where my ecumenical upbringing reared its ugly head and went for my jugular. Those of you with an evangelical background are familiar with the idea of being convicted, right? No, it’s not the kind of being convicted where you done wrong, got cuffed and stuffed, then got sent up the river to pay your debt to society. It’s the kind of being convicted where God lays an idea on your heart and then proceeds to gently nag you about it while you try to ignore His urging. You might not go so far as to book a cruise to Tarshish like Jonah did to avoid his calling, so at least you can live without fear of being swallowed by a big ol' sea mammal while ignoring God's plan for your life. But let me tell ya, it’s really, really hard to ignore God when he’s sitting right there by your aorta, softly whispering in your ear (because he has Go-Go Gadget abilities like that) – “Why not? What are you waiting for?”      
After an afternoon of hemming and hawing, talking to Miracle Man, and Facebooking back and forth with Church Friend, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that teaching this class is something I’m supposed to do. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but I'm pretty sure it's true. Miracle Man is going to be my lovely assistant as I make an earnest attempt to impart religious knowledge onto a room full of 10-year-olds. I’m honestly not sure if my classroom will be the scene of Catechism or cataclysm, but I’m hoping for the former.
I'll keep this handy just in case.
With doomsday the first session only days away, I've blessedly gone from “What have I gotten myself into?” to “Ok, I might actually be able to pull this off.” The curriculum is already beautifully laid out and I pretty much just have to present what’s in the teacher guide week after week. Also, there is a solid support system in place for the catechists at my church. Nothing boosts my confidence like a good old fashioned safety net. And as the parent of a 10-year-old, I already know what to expect from the kids – some compliance, some defiance, and hushed fart jokes that they don’t think I can hear. Hopefully I’ll be able to give the illusion that I’m in charge long enough for my young students to learn something that doesn’t have to do with bodily functions or things that smell weird. It’s something to shoot for, anyway. 

I shall do my best!

1 comment:

Go on, spill yer guts!