I’m not really into babies, I’m so sorry. I’m not really keen on the idea carrying baby on my lap. Giving a bottle of milk to a baby and ooogle-wooogle them is not something I’m looking forward to do whenever there’s a friend’s baby around. I like to see baby asleep though. They look peaceful and I don’t have to touch them. Too fragile for me. Too small for my small hands. I’m sort of afraid I’m going to scratch or break something. I think all babies have this over-sensitive feeling, makes them screaming if strangers hold or touch them. I don’t like to be screamed at since I have no intention to hurt the baby or whatsoever. But they won’t understand anyway when you try to sooth them, except you’re the mother or father.
On the contrary, I love children. I’m really, really interested on those little people and I always find that observing kids is a lovely thing to do. To make it clear, I love children 5 years and up. They already understand the concept of punishment and reward. They start being an active observer. By active I mean they start put things they perceived in zealous actions and reactions. They bold enough to say what they want to say the way they feel it. They are so open. It has been my interest to see children growing and observing what makes them who they are. What changing them? How small things can be so influential to their opinion. They absorb almost anything.
I’m so lucky to be trusted to teach Sunday School at my Church for more than 3 years. My kids are age 7 to 10 years old. At Sunday School, the board of committee not only taught me how to lead the class (the yearly curriculum, Bible story, songs, art & craft), but they also taught me the general psychology of the kids, the growing stages, all the basics how to teach children at certain age. The rest I got to learn myself. Watching one kid growing for 3 years, that gives me a different way to see how one human can actually change so fast.
As I observe myself and the way I teach, I found out that I teach the kids the way my father taught me when I was a little kid. Lots of playing, lots of laughing, yet full of discipline. My father, for all I know was a very strict parent, but never have I felt less-loved by him. We got to drink our milk every morning. We got to take a nap. We got to go to bed on 8pm everyday but weekend. We got to do our home work and study from 5pm to 7pm. No television during meal time. No Nintendo (remember?) if it’s not weekend. We got to clean up the table after meals. We got to mend our bed every morning. And if we miss one of that, we surely get our punishment. A spank or standing on the corner for half an hour. Do I feel bitter? Not at all!
I also remember hundreds of books he bought us (my siblings and I). Those lovely toys he was providing for us. The outdoors activities we did every weekend. The tugging to bed every night. The little boat he built and named it after me. He taught me fishing, play chest, ride a bike, climb a tree. He bought us chocolate every weekend. He rent kung-fu VHS tape every weekend. He was there when we cannot sleep or having a nightmare. He put us on his lap and told us how much he love us. I had the loveliest childhood as long as I can remember. So I found out and believe that discipline is effective along with lotsa love.
When I see the kids in the class, they remind me of how lucky I am as a human. And the funny thing is, it’s the kids that teach me much-much more than what I am able to teach them. They teach me to be patient, to be able to explain why I don’t like things they did, why I need to rebuke and punish them. They teach me the real meaning of eager-to-learn. They show me how to open mind to new things. They make me laughs over small things. They ask questions that make me smarter. They teach me how to forgive and move on. They teach me how to notice details. They accept me the way I am, good or bad and never judge me. They challenge me to be more creative in doing my Bible Story and finding new games. They laugh with me. They even somehow make me more faithful. They make my every Sunday sunny and warm.
Kids: Kak Lolo, I wanna ask you something…
Me: Yes, what it is dear?
Kids: We can feel pain because we have a body right?
Me: Yes, physical pain…
Kids: and when we die, it’s our body that dies, and we left our body right?
Me: Yes, the spirit leaves the body
Kids: So if we’re going to hell, how we can feel pain? We’re no longer have body to feel the heat of hell!
Me: Look kids, we got to be nice to everyone…
Kids: Everyone? How about those who do bad things to us?
Me: yes, we got to forgive them
Kids: how if they did it over and over again
Me: Well you got to tell them that it wasn’t nice and they should stop doing it.
Kids: …and if they don’t listen, we got to pray for them, God will do something
Me: … (I’m about to say:”you go and report that kid to your teachers”)
Kids: Kak Lolo, are you happy?
Me: Yes, I am…
Kids: but you don’t have any boyfriend, are you still happy?
Me: err… it’s okay… someday I’ll have a boyfriend
Kids: you can pick someone in Church Kak
Me: Yeah, I just haven’t found one that I like
Kids: I’ll ask Mom and Dad to help you out Kak!
Kids: Kak Lolo where have you been?!?!
Me: Sorry kids, I have these events over weekend
Kids: But you missed the Sunday School for 3 weeks already!! We miss you!
Me: I know I’m really sorry kids…
Kids: You should stop working! So you can teach us every Sunday
Me: but how I can support my self?
Kids: Don’t worry about it Kak, God will help you…
Kids: Kak Lolo, you are so childish!
Me: Why? What did I do?
Kids: You want to play whatever we play!
A parent: My kids adore you Kak Lolo.
Me: Oh, thank you, I love your daughter too. She’s so smart!
A parent: Yeah, she told me “Mom, you should wear lipstick too, just like Kak Lolo, she’s pretty”
Me:… Oh, I-I don’t mean that way…
A Parent: *laughing* it’s okay, I’m wearing a lipstick now… and she loves it.
I have hundreds of conversations like that that I keep in my heart. I know that there are some kids that naughty and spoiled and hyperactive that just so hard to deal with. But trust me there’s always a way to teach them how to behave. And a sincere smile and compassion can extremely change their mind over things, as simple as that. Look, when opportunity to teach little children knocking on your door. Never say “No”. That will be one of those moments when you learn the most about life.
Let’s celebrate the beauty of children!