Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Jesus Wants Holden for a Sun Beam (even if his teacher doesn't)

So I am standing in the hall at church last Sunday and Brother K (soft-spoken, short husband of Sister K, the Sun Beam teacher) comes up to me and says this:

"Gee, your son has a lot of energy." Well, we all know that is code for "your kid is a troublemaker." So I looked surprised and said, "Oh, does he misbehave?" and Brother K said "no, he just has a lot of energy," (translation: I am too polite to tell you what I really think, but I will use this cliche term to get my point across.) He walked away, leaving me puzzled and unnerved.

So, after primary I went to pick up Holden and decided to have a chat with Sister K.

"So, how did he do today?" I asked her hopefully. Well. She just stared at me, as if trying to figure out how to break the news. Then she said, "he's just so YOUNG. He can't keep still for more than two seconds and is just all over the place . . . " upon saying this, she flailed her arms in the air, as if to illustrate exactly how out of control Holden is. Thanks for the visual aid, Sister K.

She said a lot more after that but I was concentrating too hard on not bursting into tears to pay any attention. I couldn't believe it! She did not have one positive thing to say about my boy. Young? Well, of course he's young. He turned three on January first. According to the Primary Manual, "children who are three on or before January first must go into Sun Beams." I struggled with this rule, discussed it with the Primary president, and was told that he'd be fine and it was the right thing to do. Then, THREE WEEKS into Sun Beams his teacher is acting as if he should know the ropes and be able to sit through two hours of lessons (which, if her personality outside the classroom is any indication of her personality inside of it,then those lessons are probably dull as can be). I don't want to rant and rave, here, but don't you think that is a LITTLE insensitive of her? A little un-Sun-Beam-teacher-like? Isn't part of her role to TEACH him to sit still? (I do not pretend that it isn't my role, too. But this is why our children go to church and learn from people besides their parents, right? It takes a village, and for Mormons, it takes a ward--one with a sensitive Sun Beam teacher.)

Now, I am not saying that Holden was wrongfully accused. He DOES have a hard time sitting still, but tell me how that sets him apart from any other three year old in the world--not to mention in that Sun Beam class? What Sun Beam wouldn't run up to the front of the room to stand by his grandmother while she gives the temple lesson? What Sun Beam wouldn't tell the Primary president to sit down and be quiet because he and his grandma are teaching? This is normal stuff, right? And, frankly, there's this other kid that sits and cries the entire time. Holden doesn't do that, at least. And, I won't say that Holden is the ward darling, but I won't NOT say it either. I've only ever heard positive things about him. Most of the other primary teachers love him. "What a character!" they say, or "he's so cute," etc. I mean, the only negative comment I ever got about him was one time when he pushed a kid in nursery--and the negative comment came from a woman who once kissed me on the mouth at girls' camp, so clearly, she's no judge of character. (By the way, her kiss was unsolicited, and came after a casual compliment regarding her cooking. Does THAT warrant a kiss?)

To show just how mean this Sun Beam teacher really is, compare her statement of "he's just so young . . . can't sit still" to the Primary president's observation that "he gets better every week." That's a better way to say that he's not used to things in Primary but he's making progress. I was just dumbfounded. Sister K walked away from me without a single nice word, and I don't remember saying anything to her at all. It's a good thing I am not a very emotional person, or I would have spent a lot longer than ten minutes crying in the miniature stall of the girls' bathroom before pulling myself together and making my way to sacrament meeting (in our ward, sacrament meeting is last. Cruel joke). Of course, I immediately blamed myself as a mother: "Where did I go wrong? What does he not know that other three-year-olds DO know? I want to die, die, die" and so forth.

Mike was trying to comfort me "Men are from Mars" style: "don't be so sensitive. She meant well. Holden is okay. You shouldn't feel so bad about it" etc. This did not help me at all, and made me start to cry all over again. I mean, really, I know I joke about the sweat pants, the hair cut, the "ip" shoes, but Holden is good. He's not better than other children, but he is good. He doesn't have developmental problems, and seems pretty normal. And to have Sister K be so negative... and the kicker is that SHE ASKED TO BE THE SUN BEAM TEACHER. I mean, don't you think she gave up all complaining rights when she requested that position? I mean, actually asked for it?

So now I have no idea what to do next week. Should I a) tell Holden to yack it up and be as loud as he wants, at Sister K's expense? (Which is the revenge style approach.) b) go in there with him to help out, throwing crusty glances in Sister K's direction every few minutes (the passive aggressive revenge style approach) or should I c) talk to Holden ahead of time and help him committ to being a reverent three-year-old? (the healthy, let's-solve-this-problem approach). I need advice.


  1. i teach in primary in my ward, and NONE of the sunbeams can sit still. but usually the rowdiest ones are my favorite. because they're NORMAL. and they're so cute, and sweet, and generally the ones that have the most trouble sitting still are the smartest.

  2. OH.MY.WORD. He was acting like a three year old??? Obsurd...totally obsurd.

  3. I'm with Kacy. Revenge is the only way to go on this one.

  4. I don’t have kids so I understand if you don’t take my advice to do everything in your power to make her life a living hell and have her end up REALLY wishing she hadn’t messed with you, but I am pretty good at making enemies and being called five letter names… so if you need my advice in being really evil to her just drop me a line and I’ll send you my book. =)…

    Oh… I’d begin by complaining to the bishop… say something like, “Sister K makes Holden feel like Jesus doesn’t want him for a Sun Beam.” If you feel this is too harsh you could always just make something up and say, “Sister K wiped food off Holden’s cheek with her spit and now he is sick..”

    Best of luck… keep me posted.

  5. I've called in a favor and Sista K's tires have been slashed.

    But really, since I'm one of those guys from Mars, this is what I would do: nothing (or at least very little). Holden is a doll and there is no reason to make him feel bad about acting his age. I think we put (in the past and currently) too much pressure on our oldest, Sam. It's so hard to avoid doing this because our expectations are so high.

    As for Sister K, it sound like she should volunteer for a position that she is more qualified to teach. I bet Holden will continue to (as the Primary President says) get better every week and maybe by June Sister K will stop flailing when she describes him.

  6. Rebecca- I'll be writing for that book asap. Thanks for the help.

    Suzie Petunia- Holden is my oldest and only child for the moment, so you can imagine all the time I spend obssessing over him. But thanks for the empathy. Good to know that it happens to other people!

    Christian-thanks for the tip. I think nothing is the best thing to do. I'm so good at doing nothing, too. I make an art of it.

  7. As an experienced Sunbeam teacher let me tell you how we handled this situation...First, our philosophy was based on the fact that we KNEW that no 3 year old had EVER had so sit still anywhere, they had never been in a classroom before... and second, we had the opporunity to be the ones to break them in... So, we had 2 rules in the class that we recited over and over 1) bottom on chair 2) keep your hands to your self...and to reinforce these rules we played games..."Put your bottom on the floor! Put your bottom on your chair!" "Put your hands on your head! Keep your hands to yourself! (Hands would go into cute angel prayer position). So anytime during the "lesson" when someone forgot a rule...we would just say "Put your bottom on your chair!" and suddenly it was a game.To this day, I'll bet some of those kids would know what to do if you told them to keep their hand's to themselves (ask Sam). We had thhose kids trained in NO TIME! And we had the bishop's kids, and they were pretty wild. Forward these comments on to Sister Kamakaze and we'll see whose arms are flailing now...