Thursday, June 12, 2008

Memories Old and New: Vacation Bible School

Go back in time with me to the olden days when summer was June, July, and August, kids caught fire flies while the adults talked ‘big talk’ on the porch, and my sister and I would find ourselves in our pajamas at the Dairy Queen on the whim of our parents as dusk overtook the day.

Each summer morning I would awaken to an already fiery sun around nine a.m. I would lie there awake and listen to the sounds around me.

Sometimes I would identify the sounds of the washing machine, the slam of our wooden screen door, or my mother speaking on the telephone. I never dressed immediately. Instead I would get up and wander about the house looking out the front door and then moving towards the back of the house to check out what was going on.

I’d say good morning to mom and then fix my breakfast. Sometimes it would be cinnamon toast or my personal favorite back then….Saltines spread with just a hint of butter and placed under the broiler. “Not too long or they’ll burn,” my mother would remind me. Breakfast would be served in front of television that would blare The Price is Right, The $25,000 Dollar Pyramid, and Match Game (cartoons only played on Saturday morning back then).

By the end of Match Game I knew it was 10:30. What? You didn’t tell time by what was on television? It was easier back then, you know. We only had three channels---four or five if the coat hanger with oddly formed clumps of aluminum foil attached to it was turned just right. By 11:00 I was finally dressed and mounting my bike to survey my outside world to see if anything was amiss.

My Dad ran a lumberyard and our house was in the middle of it. I had a large wonderful world to play in, imagine in and with all that extra lumber lying around I could concoct some hellacious ramps to take jumps on. I popped a pretty mean wheelie, too, with my monkey handlebars, banana shaped bike seat (white with psychedelic flowers) and optional sissy bar.

By late afternoon it would be H---O---T, hot, and my Sheltie dog, Lady, and I would opt for porch play. The house I grew up in was built in 1929 and had a very wide front porch that spanned the length of the front of the house. It was a wonderful outside room we used when it rained. Sometimes we used it late into the evening on summer nights. I’d play ‘house’ or ‘school’ for hours with Lady dutifully playing the role of ‘the baby’ or ‘the student’. Sometimes Lady would want her belly rubbed so I’d read aloud to her from books like Henry and Ribsey, Ramona Quimby, Stuart Little, or Homer Price. Lady would lay there all sprawled out listening to me occasionally wagging her tail in amusement.

Then the week would finally arrive for Vacation Bible School. I’d spend each morning for one week with my Sunday people. You know, all the folks I usually only saw on Sundays---the preacher, the choir director, my Sunday school teachers, and all the other people who benefited from my hugs. I was a huge hugger as a child and I made my rounds every Sunday.

Vacation Bible School meant more time for hugs. Vacation Bible School also meant learning more about Jesus, singing songs like Deep and Wide and crafts. There would be lots of glue, popsicle sticks, Bible verses and of course, pictures of Jesus that would be glued to construction paper, taken home, and placed on the fridge.

Well, a few years have passed. Both of my children have experienced their own VBS classses as students and as teen helpers, and I have now experienced the blessing of helping a few times as teacher, as an assistant, and as snack purveyor. This year I was hoping for the snack jig again, but I inquired too late, and our director really needed help with the 2 year olds.

Let me repeat that…..2, two, TWO. Two as in diapers, two as in drool, two as in needs to be constantly watched.

For those that know me the best they know that me being in a room with eight 2-year-olds is extremely laughable. I relate better to older children and the only 2-year-olds I ever bonded with are the two that exited by body.

I changed my first diaper in 14 years on Monday. A friend of mine was watching from afar and she thought was really funny when I spent a good five minutes trying to unbutton the little boy’s pants. I mean, c’mon, I’ve got three college degrees. I know how to change a diaper, but the button was giving me a problem. I couldn’t get it undone. Finally, I looked up and saw my friend with a bemused look, and it dawned on me….I said, “They pull down, don’t they?” She laughed and gave me an affirmative answer. I felt stupid. :) The little boy just looked up at me and gurgled.

Vacation Bible School is still a time for hugs. Now, I'm on the adult end of the hugs. I’ve received and given many this week, and each and every one is very special.

As a member of our history committee at our church I walked around yesterday and took pictures of all of the various classes and activities going on to preserve them for posterity.....sort of appropriate for a history teacher, isn't it?

You can see the pictures below. Click on the slideshow to see larger images.

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