Friday, May 13, 2011

32 Flavors and then some...

So you may be wondering where my blog from yesterday is. I am too. It's disappeared. I think this is someone's way of telling me I've been censored. It might have been nice to receive an email notification about this but I guess deleting my blog sends a pretty strong message without the necessity of form emails about "adult content."

I guess you never know you've crossed a line until someone points it out. Oops. My bad. Sorry if I offended anyone.

You may not know this about me but for the past 3 years, I've taught Sunday School to 0-3 year olds. I know, you're shocked. It's a parent-child singing class. I learned from Miss Amy, an amazing music teacher who had done it for 10 years prior to me. Sadly, it became ragingly apparent on the first day that I would never be able to fill her shoes. Here's why:

1. I am not that good of a singer.
2. It is very difficult to wave scarves around and pretend you are a blue bird with a straight face.
3. 45 minutes is a very long time to engage small children in a large empty gym with only singing to distract them. (Especially when there is a train set right outside of the gym.)
4. You may be surprised to find out that I can be very sarcastic. This doesn't translate well to 0-3 year olds in Sunday School class. Go figure.

After a month of exhausting myself with the energy it took to be perky and fabulous, I decided to regroup. I needed a plan of action. The plan involved two critical components: library books and a snack.

Hello, game changer.

Give a two-year old a handful of goldfish and read them a book about Leornardo the Monster and you have captured their attention for at least 15 additional minutes. That leaves actual singing time to maybe 20 minutes (snack clean up and parachute/bubble time kill another 10 minutes).

I figured out a way to preserve my voice and most of my dignity. It also helped that I announced at the beginning of every class, "Hi, I'm Christa. Just so you know, I'm no Miss Amy. Sorry in advance."

Next year, I am giving up the 0-3 year olds to take on the junior high and high school kids. Big change of pace and I am excited about it (for obviously selfish YA writer reasons). But I'll always love my littles for the myriad lessons they've taught me including:

1. Patience. (If you think waiting for agent feedback is painful, try waiting for a two-year old to eat 14 goldfish so you can get out the parachute and be done with class.)
2. Sometimes you don't feel like singing but you need to power through anyway. Kids don't understand "I don't feel like entertaining you for 45 minutes" from grown-ups.
3. If things are going south, pull out the Old Lady who Swallowed A Fly. (My translation: if your writing is not going smoothly, take a break and read for a while.)
4. You're not there for the parents, you're there for the kids (very helpful advice for KidLit authors).
5. When you are losing the crowd, pull out a box of donuts.

I believe number 5 can be used in almost every situation.

6 comments:

M.J. Fifield said...

I've attended a toddler music class. I get that whole scarf waving thing. The goldfish line especially cracked me up.

I definitely agree with #5. It makes me a hero at work every damn time.

Stephanie said...

Blogger had a major freak-out yesterday and everyone's posts from yesterday morning onward were lost. Blogger's trying to restore the lost posts, but a lot of people are pretty ticked off right now! So, don't worry, I don't think you were censored.

Carrie said...

You are very brave. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is also very useful when things get dicey.

Also, I am so eating goldfish in L.A. this summer. I don't think they have them here, which makes me wonder how anybody survives past the age of three. What do they eat?

Jenna Cooper said...

Good luck with the kids. But snacks and parachutes--you can never go wrong there with little kids, that's for sure. It sounds like you have a good plan.

Tara Tyler said...

that is great advice! i did a similar transition, went from hs math teacher, taught 4 yo preschool (while my kids were there) and now i'm back. quite a difference. i'm too sarcastic for the little ones...

Jessica Lei said...

I definitely like #5. TOO TRUE. If not donuts, cake. Or cookies.

Or alcohol.