I am in the Primary Presidency of my ward. This is really the first time I have had a Primary calling for more than a few months. It has been an adjustment. I was accustomed to teaching adults. Teaching kids, especially with such a wide range of ages can be..., well, daunting.
I feel more comfortable with it now. I still have moments of frustration. Maybe the kids are wound up and not paying attention or I plan something to go one way and it goes another. Or maybe we are all distracted by my baby who decided to skip his morning nap and eat the table leg.
I have actually gotten a lot from this calling. I have gotten to know the children of the ward. They are amazing. I hear their sweet, simple testimonies, see their bright, smiling faces, and realize that the world is not quite as bad as I might think. I look out at them each week and think "What will they do? Who will they become? I hope I don't screw them up!"
This kind of thinking inevitably leads me to reflect on my own Primary experience. I know that, in part, I owe my Primary teachers and leaders a big thank you. They helped make me into the person I am today. They gave of their time and talents to help plant my feet firmly on the right path, placing my hand on the iron rod. I know they loved me. I think that is the most important factor.
I can remember singing "My Heavenly Father Loves Me". I don't know how old I was, but I remember our music leader suggesting that we imagine what each part of the song meant. The second verse says "He gave me my ears that I might hear the magical sound of things." When it came to that part, I made a motion with my hand, like something was exploding in a magical way. I happened to look at the music leader. Our eyes met and she smiled. At the time, I was really embarrassed. I didn't realize anyone was paying attention to me. But I still remember that moment. And it still gives me a warm, happy feeling inside.
When I was 4, our class was called "Star". My teacher gave me a little silver star pin as a Christmas present. I treasured it. It seemed like the most precious gift anyone had ever given me... in my whole 4 years of life! But I still have it. I still think of that star every time I see that sister who was my teacher.
My brother had a wonderful teacher. She was our Great Aunt Ruth. She made all kinds of little crafty things to give out to her class. One that I especially liked was a little ice cream float made from a tiny cup, short piece of a stirring stick and a pompom. She also sent him birthday cards, even when he wasn't in her class anymore. I was very jealous as a child. Now I think of her love for her Primary class as a wonderful example.
Another teacher who made a big impact on my life was my Merry Miss teacher. (That was what the 10-11 year old class was called in the old days). She was a caterer. She took us to her house and let us prepare a meal for a Father/Daughter dinner in her fancy, industrial kitchen. She also taught me how to cross stitch. More than anything, she made me feel part of the group. We were new to the ward and I was reaching that awkward stage of life. It meant a lot to know someone would notice if I wasn't there.
Since I am in the Presidency in my ward, I have thought about what other presidents have done. I especially remember being challenged to memorize all of the Articles of Faith before I turned 12. I remember many Primary activities through the years that were fun and uplifting. I really appreciate all the time and effort those women up into making those activities wonderful.
Overall, I never remember feeling any sense of rush or disorder, no panic over absent teachers, no pressure to get the songs right for the Sacrament meeting program. Primary was a wonderful place where I was loved, where I did fun things and sang beautiful songs. I cringe at the pressure I feel to give that to the kids in our ward. Can I do it? Yes. Will I do it?
As a mother of Primary kids I have learned a crucial lesson about Primary. It is not a nursery or a daycare while the grown-ups do the important learning. It is the Lord's trainig ground. Primary is the place where the testimoniesof the future leaders of the church are nutured. One of the kids in Primary right now, somewhere in the world, will grow up to be an Apostle or a General Relief Society President. Many will grow up to be Stake Presidents, Bishops, Young Women Presidents, and even Primary Presidents. Most will become parents. Do you think the Lord will let them be taught by just anyone?
I know that each person who serves in the Primary is held in high regard by the Lord. He is not just sticking them somewhere until a more important job opens up. This IS the more important job!