Sunday School Leader (SSL for short) is running our family service at Church this week. Family Service is really great most of the time, but sometimes seems a bit like a lovely opportunity to herd all the tinies up to the front and make them tell everyone what they've been learning about (with loud prompting and an adult repeating everything they say "to translate"). Clarification: this isn't a jibe at my Church, just at the way one or two of the grown-ups seem to think about the youngest members. There are that sort of adult everywhere, believe me.
SSL: What kinds of animals went on the Ark? (Clue, no she didn't mean "clean and unclean," she wanted the answer, "pets, farm animals, and wild animals".)
Kids: Elephants! Tigers! Dogs! Snakes!
SSL: No, what TYPES?
(answer is eventually gotten out of them by a combination of sharp correction of their "wrong" answers, wild guesses from the kids, and adult prompting of the, "F FFfff? Fffar Far..?" type)
Jenna (loudly): And horses!!
SSL: And what type of animal is a horse?
Jenna: A big round one? (ripple of laughter from adults, despairing look from SSL)
SSL: No, it's a farm animal. What other kinds of farm animals do we know?
Jenna: (giving up) A zebra?
SSL: NO, like sheep. And cows. Look, here's a picture of a cow. Don't touch the picture, it's going to fall over.
Anyhow, this was followed by another reminder of the huge vote of No Confidence we place in our little ones by following them around all the time, treating their fears and feelings as stupid, and generally not letting them own their own bodies. A little girl was helping to hand out some little strips of paper with promises from the Bible on them, when her mum appeared looking annoyed. She saw her child dithering about whether to approach us or not, scary looking strangers smiling at her, and said: "What are you doing? You're meant to GIVE them OUT, can't you even do a simple job like that? Come here, I'll do it."
What's worse is that I use these examples from my weekend knowing well that I say things like that ALL THE TIME and I really have to stop!
Anyway, we decided to walk home because the sun was shining and I hate hassling people for a lift even though it's well over an hour's walk. Along the way tried not to hurry, and it made a huge difference. We said that Jenna couldn't go to see the ducks before realising that we were slipping into anti-child gear again and took the route past the river anyway. Watching her run around all over the river gardens turned into the highlight of our weekend. Finally we helped her to float a fallen pink blossom down the river under the bridge, watching until it went out of sight (with her shouting, "goodbye flower, I'll miss you!").