In my self reflection-vacation-mode of the past few weeks I came to another decision I have been struggling to make lately. For some time I have debated dropping my role as 5th grade Religious Education Teacher at my church, a role I have had for 5 years.
Can we realistically do everything we want to and do it well? Of course not. Something has to give. I cannot be the sole person responsible for the health, nutrition, home care, pet care, laundry, cleaning, education of my children and spiritual education of other people’s children. I looked at what in my life I can let go. I can give up some of the home care, the pet care and the nutrition responsibilities by asking the girls to do more. They have been helping more with the laundry, with the dishes, and with the animals. It helps so much. Girls....I know you are reading this. Every.thing.you.do.helps. Thank you.
I decided to let go of religious ed. After 5 years, I felt perhaps it was time for another parent to volunteer their time and energy to the program. I always joke that I am the worst teacher ever because I am not that well versed in scripture. I don’t know the answers to all the questions children can ask. I rarely prepare for class. I teach my class much the same way we homeschool....I let the children lead the way.
So just as I was about to give my notice, I realized that every time we walk out of class Lilah tells me that she had a great class. I smile back at her and I realize that I too, had a great time in class. It is such a hassle to get to class for 8:45 on a Sunday morning when I would much rather snuggle in bed, or enjoy a hot cup of coffee with a bowl of granola while reading the Sunday paper. Those things are pushed aside until May when our program goes on summer break. We get up, get dressed and I grab my basket of things, half the time wondering what I am going to do with them.
Then something magical happens. These kids lead the way. They come up with interesting projects to accompany every sacrament we study. For Baptism they dressed up, took pictures and through PowerPoint, created a presentation about what they felt were the key points a new parent should know before presenting their child for baptism. We printed the copies, bound them, and presented them to the Sister who runs the program.
For Reconciliation they created a board game. They designed the concept that the players would choose chance cards. If the message was positive such as “you raked your Grandparent’s yard without being asked” they move ahead. If they get a negative card such as “you saw someone call your classmate a mean name and you didn’t do anything” you move to a space with a cross. The player then has the opportunity to go to confession, recite the Act of Contrition, and move back to the space instructed. They wrote the chance cards, and practiced the game before playing it with the 2nd grade class who was preparing for their Reconciliation.
For Confirmation they created booklets to give to the 8th grade class with beautifully illustrated pictures of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.
These are some of the amazing things that have happened with no planning on my part. My goal has always been that if the children enjoy coming, I have succeeded. When I realized that I enjoy it as much as they do, despite the bickering to get out of the house, I knew that my time to leave is not now. I love sitting in church and seeing kids I taught 4 and 5 years ago. It gives me a real sense of community. One woman I know just retired from her 1st grade position after 30 years. I doubt I will be teaching this class 25 years from now.....but I am not going to make assumptions or predictions. I am just going to do what I feel called to do right now. One year at a time.