Who Said Life Is Fair?

1 06 2009

Yesterday at church, I was a little snippy to the senior Primary kids.

I’m the Primary chorister, which means I teach songs to the 3-12 year-old kids every week. Seriously, it’s the best calling in the church. I get along well with the kids, and they get along well with me, and everything is (usually) sunshine and rainbows.

There was a special meeting for the teachers, so all the kids were together (usually we cycle through the 3-8s and the 9-12s separately) and they were without teachers.

Yeah.

I had planned a review game, where I made a target out of felt triangles and put strips of velcro around a ping pong ball. When they threw the ball and got a section, we sang the corresponding song.

Easy, with just enough fun to keep their eyes on me at least every few minutes.

We have two cans of sticks, one for the older crowd and one for the younguns, that have everyone’s name written on them so when picking for games or helpers it’s fair.

Things were going along smashingly (although I could have used some more actual singing, but with me that’s always the case) when this little gal walks up to me and says quietly, “When is it going to be my turn?”

“As soon as I pick your name, sweetie.”

Which happened to happen the very next draw, since we only had time for one more song. Except I totally cheated, because earlier I knocked the can off of the lecturn, spilling all the sticks everywhere and I noticed we were missing quite a few children’s names. I don’t know who has been rigging the can, but there needs to be an investigation immediately. Immediately, I say! We must be fair!

As soon as I announced her name, the back half of the room erupted in shameful whining. “It’s not FA-IR!” “You just picked someone from junior Primary.” Etc & c.

She threw the ball (and it took four times instead of three, which was the rule in the beginning–again NOT FAIR!), we sang the song, and then singing time was over.

More groans from the back half.

And do you know what I did? I gave those big kids a lecture.

I never do that.

But yesterday, I did.

This is what I said: “Listen, guys, I’m sorry if you feel like it wasn’t fair. But guess what–life’s not fair! The sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be. I really didn’t feel like you were helping out much with the singing . . . ” Blah, blah, blah, something else about supporting me and not chatting with your neighbor.

“But we were singing!”

To which I responded something along the lines of: “To sing, you have to open your mouths.”

I’m afraid it wasn’t very nice.

But let me tell you something, it gets tiring being so nice all the time.

And really, what would you have done? The “fair” thing by choosing one of the increasingly-attitude-ridden pre-teens who are (sadly, so sadly) getting too cool for Primary anyway? Or choosing the sweet little girl whose mom has said sets up her stuffed animals and pretends to teach them Primary songs (even to the point of saying, “Not right now, Rainbow” while she’s going over the words)?

The choice was obvious. And not fair.

But that’s the way life is sometimes.

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19 responses

1 06 2009
Mrs. Olsen

Oh how I wish I could have been there. I am laughing right now. I totally agree that the hyper attitude kids get way more attention, which they usually need, but often to the detriment(?) of the quiet happy kids.

1 06 2009
mamacheetah

Aw yes, one of those days where you just want to tape their mouths shut. I think now a days we are way nicer than we should be.
I love that little girl for pretending to be like her lovely music leader. So cute.

1 06 2009
Rae

I hated those days as chorister. It is a wonderful job, but sometimes, it’s just awful, too. I made more than one child cry in the years I did it. One of them was an attitude-ridden almost-out boy. I’m embarassed to admit that it was a teensy bit satisfying.

1 06 2009
Mandy

Sounds like just the right amount of tough love. Kids need to be told what’s what every once in a while, if you ask me. And really, fair schmair.

I was the chorister for awhile and I think the sticks are the only way to go. Anything else and it is too hard to remember who has and hasn’t been chosen.

1 06 2009
kari

I think everything you said yesterday was just what they needed. I give you alot of credit for how you handled it. I wouldn’t have been so nice. That was a difficult singing time!

1 06 2009
Monique

I had a similar experience with my Valiant girls in class this week. The side talking was making me crazy! I actually yelled “Hello, Am I speaking English?” When no one was paying attention and the talking was so loud! Not my best moment! Hope no one in the hall heard me.

1 06 2009
Niki

Wanda, Wanda, Wanda. hilarious! I had no idea you had such attitude. I wish I could have seen their faces when you said, “Life’s not fair.” I am still laughing.

When it was my turn to teach four 4-yr-olds, they were so annoying one day that I actually told them to shut their mouths. And then I felt sooooo bad. Life isn’t fair though – right?

1 06 2009
Kristen

I think you did fine. I tell the older kids in Primary that in “Sister Campbell’s world” if they aren’t being reverent when their name is picked I just skip it and they miss their chance for a turn. They were angels for Sharing Time on Sunday.

1 06 2009
Tami

Bravo!! THey deserved whatever they got, and yes it gets tiring being so nice all the time….not that I would know. Just this morning my poor husband sneezed 3 times in a row, really loud and I said….get ready, “What’s your problem?”. See, I lack in the niceness department.
Anyway, I must also confess that the newly updated sticks have been sitting on my end table in my living room for 3 weeks. Yikes, sorry. I’ll bring them Sunday to help increase the fairness factor. 🙂

1 06 2009
Camber

I applaud you! Sounds like you taught them or at least told them (cause who knows if they ever actually listen) a very valuable life lesson. The sooner they realize that life isn’t fair, the better off they will be.
Reverence is a HUGE issue in our primary and we have like no children so let me know if you have any suggestions on that.
In other news I think I scared the children to death yesterday with a story (I promise it was in the June 2007 Friend) about a bear attack. When I read it over myself it did not seem that scary just a little intense (which I thought would keep the attention of the rowdy boys for .2 seconds). Well you could hear a pin drop they were so quiet and most of the children either moved really close to their teachers or moms or they had to sit in their laps. Poor Sunbeams! I felt bad. Oh well.

1 06 2009
Dina

Bahahahaha….welcome to the *not-so-nice* dark side…..:)

1 06 2009
Greg

Hmmm. . . looks like the tally is:

Choristers: 11

Whiny kids: 0

2 06 2009
Candi

I am proud of you. I’m pretty sure they’ll get a lecture from me on Sunday about respect. And maybe we should rethink the whole teachers being gone thing.
You really are the best primary chorister ever…and not just that I’m parcial to our particular primary 🙂

2 06 2009
anitanap

This was the best post ever! At least, since your last one that made me laugh out loud. Man, I love your honest & honestly funny blog. You’re the best.
a) I can’t believe you’re *still* chorister! Holy Singing Cows, Batman! Hasn’t it been, like, 4 years? Okay, maybe 3. Anyway. Wow. Now that I think about it, though…if I were them I wouldn’t release you either, and if I were you I wouldn’t want them to. It *is* the best calling ever.

b) What’s going on in the minds of leaders who think, “Oh sure, we can leave Primary with a bazillion little kids during the third hour of church without their teachers, no problem!” They’re probably thinking, “Sis.Jones can handle ANYTHING!” Which is true. But still. Sheesh. Sounds like torture. I loved your idea for singing time, though. Brilliant!

3 06 2009
K.

You’re previous commenter told me I had to come check out this post…and I’m glad I did. I’m currently Primary Chorister in my ward and we had a teacher-less 5th Sunday as well. I have to say, it went better than last 5th Sunday, something about having the Young Men sitting their in their ties helped…But I digress.

Last 5th Sunday the kids were so rowdy during Sharing Time that when it was my turn I had to lecture them (which I also hate) on how if they didn’t behave we would have no game. This month they were better and enjoyed our “Name that Tune”-ish game…and you totally did the right thing. I would have done the same…

3 06 2009
Nancy

Since I was there [which made 4 adults but no teachers], I agree that you did say everything they needed to hear…all 21 of our “bazillon” kids – and that is combined Junior and senior 🙂 – I also agree that you are a terrific choirster and the kids enjoy your smiling face and miss you when you are gone.

3 06 2009
Nancy

might help if I did spell check 🙂 BEFORE I submit – sorry ’bout that

4 06 2009
ann

Thank you for not being so nice all the time. Not to mention being willing to give the life is not fair lecture. Well done. i bet you rock as the primary chorister. What primary president does that to her chorister??

12 06 2009
Jefe Anonymous

I don’t know how I missed this post, so I’m coming in a little late in the commenting game. Sometimes in school when the kids are out of hand, I’ll just tell them to “Shut UP!”, to which they usually respond rather indignantly, “That’s not nice!” (which is extremely funny, a high schooler talking about what is and what is not nice, and being offended by being told to shut up).
After this exchange, I usually say, “Shut UP, please! See? I asked nicely…”

Oh boy, Iove summer vacation.
–Jefe

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