Every Friday Mister Bubby’s teacher sends home the “Friday Folder,” which includes a sheet that tells me if MB is missing any assignments and has a note from MB about “one thing I learned or enjoyed doing this week.”  I give you this week’s note:

One thing I learned or enjoyed doing this week was…“doing the MVEMJSUN poem.  My poem was My very evil moose just sucked up nosehair.  It was tons of fun and laughter.”

He is both his father’s and mother’s son.  I’ll let you figure out which part is which.

Last week I met with a counselor in our bishopric.  He said they wanted to extend a new calling to me at church.  (A “calling” is a job.)  Now I’m going to bore all of my LDS readers by explaining to all of my not-LDS readers how Mormon congregations are organized into “wards” and a whole bunch of wards make up a “stake,” and recently our stake decided to take three wards and turn them into four wards, which resulted in a significant diminishing of the adult population in our ward.  The child (under 12) population remains very, very large.  The significance of this will be clear shortly.  Anyway, since Mormons have a lay ministry, for the last several weeks the leadership has been scrambling to fill the vacancies that the reorganization has left us with.

SO–going into this meeting, I knew a couple of things:  1)  Just about every vacancy had been filled, except for a few in the Primary (children’s Sunday School), where we have tons and tons of children (about 140 or so–which may be nothing for evangelical mega-churches, for all I know, but by Mormon ward standards it is pretty freaking huge), and the building library (where I used to work).  2)  Since I’d worked in the library before, they were unlikely to ask me to work there again.  You don’t usually get asked to work in the library more than once in your lifetime–mainly because that’s usually where they send people to die.  (Obviously, I survived the library.  But just barely.  They extracted me to put me in another job where I could do even less damage and interact with even fewer people.  But that’s another story.)  This could only mean one thing.  Well, technically two things.

1)  They were going to ask me to be a Primary teacher.

2)  They were probably going to ask me to teach Primary with my husband, who has been teaching the 6-year-olds for the last three or four years (in addition to directing the ward choir and being a part-time ward organist–he’s an overachiever).  Because…

You know, I was going to explain it, but it’s not worth it.  Suffice it to say that I was prescient because what I thought they were going to do was exactly what they did.

I want to tell you that in all my years of church service, there have been many callings that I was not remotely enthusiastic about, but I have never said no.  There have been a couple of jobs I’ve done so poorly that my leaders repented of ever asking me and expeditiously moved me to some other place in the organization where I could do less damage and interact with fewer people.  But historically speaking, when someone asks me to do a job, I do not refuse.  It is partly because I have a problem saying no–but it’s also because I realize that in our church, there is only so much competence to spread around, and the church relies on the willingness of warm bodies to do things they don’t enjoy and may even suck at, just so their programs can keep going.  There is a less cynical way to word this, but I forget what it is.  Anyway, that is the context I wanted to give you:  I never say no.

Until last week, when the bishopric counselor told me what they wanted me to do and asked me what I thought about that idea (or words to that effect).  And I said, “I’m going to be perfectly honest with you.  I don’t like the idea at all.”  And the poor counselor was like, “Wow.  Really.”    He had no idea what to do with this information.  I can only imagine what must have been going through his head.  Fortunately, being the sort of person I am, I immediately felt the need to explain myself.

It’s not that I don’t like Primary.  I have several (past) years of Primary service under my belt.  Mostly as a pianist, but also short stints as a music leader and a teacher.  I enjoy being in Primary inasmuch as I enjoy being around children.  I don’t particularly enjoy being responsible for children.  Music leader is okay because while there’s more interaction with the children than you have as a pianist (for obvious reasons), you only have to teach them to sing songs.  So you’re up in front of a group of 20-60 children, acting like a fool and trying to get their attention, but there are a bunch of other adults in the room who are responsible for making sure they don’t start fistfights with their neighbors or indecently expose themselves.  (You see a lot from the front of the room that you’d just as soon not see.  But that’s another story.)  All you have to do is put on the dog and pony show.

Being a Primary teacher means that for one hour you are in a big room where you have “sharing time” and “singing time” and you have to make sure your group of sweethearts aren’t acting up or indecently exposing themselves (note:  this latter one doesn’t really happen that often–it’s just not a thing one ever forgets), and then for another hour you are in a very small room where it’s just you and your group of kids and you’re expected not only to teach them something but also to make sure they don’t get so noisy that they disturb the class in the tiny room next door and that they don’t start fights with each other and they don’t try to leave the room unsupervised and hopefully no one starts crying, but if someone does, you should do something about it.  I’m no good at this stuff.

It’s not that I don’t like children.  Did I already say that?  I used to not like children, before I had children of my own.  Now I like children.  I like children even more  now that I know I’m not going to have any more of my own.  I can’t explain it, it’s just true!  But children don’t like me.  I can’t say I blame them.  Most adults aren’t that comfortable with me, either.  I used to not understand this, until I realized that I have a condition known as Chronic Bitch Face.  Historically people have told me that I don’t smile enough, i.e. at all.  It’s true, I’m not a smiler.  But I don’t know many people who smile all the time.  I’ve watched people on the streets and in stores and even at church, and I see very, very few people smiling at all times.  But apparently my “neutral” face is far more offensive to humans than the average “neutral” face.  (I’m not sure about its effect on animals, since I purposely avoid contact with animals if possible.)

But it’s not that I’m unwilling to teach Primary.  It’s not my favorite thing on earth, but as I said, I like children (as a casual observer), and I have taught Primary and I do teach Primary (as a substitute), and it isn’t horrible…except for that one time a bunch of five-year-old made me cry.  (In my defense, it was a long time ago, and there were ten of them.)  My feelings about teaching Primary weren’t the main reason I told the counselor I hated the idea.  I may be an awful Primary teacher, but I’m willing to be awful for the Kingdom’s sake.  I know how important a warm body is.

The problem is this:  My husband is a great Primary teacher.  He’s a great Primary teacher because he’s a great teacher period–he started out wanting to teach for a living, until the lure of Corporate America and its Salaries You Can Raise a Family On proved too difficult to resist[1]–and also because, for some strange reason, kids like him.  (Apparently he doesn’t have a bitch face.)  I am proud of my husband’s talents and skills.  I don’t think that I feel a sense of competition with him–but I think that is mainly because I don’t spend a lot of time sucking at stuff in the same room where he is being brilliant at it.  Am I out there running scientific experiments and developing processes for manufacturing superconductors?  No.  Am I out there earning a living?  No.  Do I move heavy furniture?  Only when he makes me.  So, yeah, maybe you can understand my hesitation to join a team with only two members where I’m destined to be the weakest link.

The counselor didn’t really understand–or rather, he thought I was just being modest–or rather, having a self-esteem problem.  He may have been right–well, of course he was–but sometimes self-esteem problems are based on fact.  I rather pride myself on basing my poor self-image on facts.  (It is one of the things I do well–how dare he try to take that away from me?)  But whatever.  Long story attempted to make short but failed, I ended up feeling so guilty (another thing I’m good at) about saying no that I finally told him I’d think about it.  And I did think about it.  I thought about it a lot.  I thought about it more than I wanted to.  And the more I thought about it, the more it became like my decision to have a fourth child–I got so tired of thinking about it that I decided to just go ahead and do it, even if it was wrong, just so I could stop thinking about it.

So now I’m team-teaching a bunch of 6-year-olds at church with my husband.  At least six-year-olds have never made me cry.  (Except for the ones who were related to me.)


[1] Also, he discovered that he doesn’t like grading papers.