As a counsellor in the primary presidency my responsibilities are the teachers and music. We have great teachers, who always let me know if they will be away, and a music leader the children love, but as a YSA isn’t always there. I love looking after my teachers and music leader, I enjoy the children less. On a monthly rotation I have to take my turn at conducting the opening exercises, and running sharing time. And I get to be pianist, the part I enjoy the most.
This year we have the afternoon slot, and since we don’t start until 2.00pm, the children are already pretty tired because sacrament meeting is first, and primary doesn’t even start until the time school would have finished for the day. And this particular week I was busy: the sunbeam teacher had called in sick the day before, it was my sharing time, and the music leader was away.
Classes come first, and standing in for the sunbeam teacher the lesson was ‘I am thankful for animals’, including the story of Noah’s Ark. I knew the nursery had a Noah’s Ark with animals and planned to borrow it, and I’d texted the parents requesting the children bring a favourite toy animal to talk about. With only two sunbeams it’s a long 40 minutes; it was pretty obvious who was in control, and it wasn’t me. We were talking about different animals when the eldest of the two decided we were going to play ‘Simon Says’. I can make this work, I thought: Simon says bark like a dog/purr like a cat. But then suddenly it wasn’t my turn to be Simon. ‘Simon Says jump’ shrieked the eldest. ‘Which animal can jump?’, say I trying to rescue the lesson? ‘A kangeroo’, they shrieked. We moved on to Noah. The ark had an eclectic collection of animals, most of whom had lost their significant other, and some of whom had obviously migrated from elsewhere (care bear?), and why is it these toys only house the more exotic creatures, what happened to the horses, cows, goats and pigs? I launched into the tale. The sunbeams decided they were going to be mermaids (yep!) swimming in the water around the ark, and resisted my attempts to suggest that dolphins or fish would be good. Mermaids it was, as the ark bobbed up and down on the water. The telling of the story got particularly tricky when the parts of raven and dove had to be played by the blue and pink toucans respectively. Both children told me about their toy animals: a pig belonging to a younger sibling; I managed more mileage with the dog, and then my own turtle. Both children professed to want to draw and colour, but when it came to it they insisted I draw the animal, and then didn’t colour it in. Just as we were about to say the closing prayer, one child spotted an older sibling in the corridor, and had to be hauled back into class to finish. By this point I was frazzled, but as it wasn’t a fast day, no headache.
I wasn’t conducting (always fun with the dash between podium and piano), but I’ll say now that I really don’t like sharing time. The children have just had an age-appropriate lesson, and trying to keep both the youngest and eldest engaged is no small task. I try to keep it fun, but my heart usually isn’t in it. The theme for the week was Christ’s role as our Saviour, and as suggested I was armed with pictures of those who work to save lives (bearing in mind my PC tendencies in selecting the pictures I use): a black doctor; a female police chief; firemen, who probably were men; male paramedic; a lifeboat crew including a woman; mountain rescue folk, in all that gear, viewed from the rear could have been anyone; an olive-skinned lifeguard at a pool; and finally, because I knew one of the children would mention him (and they did), a picture of Prince William with his air-sea rescue helicopter. The discussion went as well as could be expected, and tied up okay, though as is usually the case, I finished well within the allotted time slot.
All the more time for music, by far my preference. The children had been learning the Sally DeFord song ‘If the Saviour stood beside me’, and this particular week we were going to be looking at the third and final (at least in the sharing time booklet) verse. True, the music leader was away, but I am always prepared for that contingency, having a large printed copy of the words, ready to stick up on the board, for all the songs we’ll be using. Except that, whilst I can copy most of the song texts from the appropriate lds.org pages, I hadn’t found a text-only version of this song on the site, and had typed it up myself. We’d gone through the verse twice when the CTR teacher piped up asking if the words had been changed for that particular verse. What? I looked through my copy at the piano, and then the words up on the board. There was no mistaking my slip: instead of typing ‘I am in His watchful care’ I’d only gone and put ‘I am watchful in His care’ !
- Which aspects of your callings do you particularly like or dislike?
- Do you prepare for contingencies?
- Have you ever revealed more of your inner self than you’d have liked whilst doing your calling?