I teach primary in my home ward. I'm part of the junior primary, with ages 3 through 8 years old. Working with the kids is so super fun. They're all so bright and happy and lovely, with such an innocence and a thirst to learn. Yes, sometimes they get bored and wiggly and it can really drive me crazy, but each week I teach it becomes more of a joy. Not to mention that the kidlets are so stinkin' hilarious! They're so cute! For example. Today in singing time we were learning a song about prayer. Here's the story:
Primary music leader: "What is an important part of prayer? Can you tell me? It starts with an 'F' ".
Child 1: "Uhhhhh...FISH!"
Child 2: "Well, no. No, not fish."
The word they were looking for was faith, but when you're 4 that's kind of a tricky word and concept to grasp. Fish just makes more sense, I suppose!
After singing time, I take my students to our classroom and we have a lesson on a principle of the gospel (see LDS.org for further information). My class is the 7 turning 8 year-olds, and it seems that every single week I get a new student. I started out with 9 children, 7 of whom came frequently. I am now up to 13 on my roll, with 10 or 11 who come on a regular basis. I have the biggest primary class in the junior and senior primary, and I teach by myself. For an almost 20-year-old, never had any children college student, it's quite the undertaking! It's especially difficult when one or two of the boys in class decide that they don't want to participate, and that because they don't they're going to be rowdy and disrupt everyone else. That's hard. Sometimes I feel like I spend more time disciplining than I do teaching.
Despite the challenge, I find that the more students I have in the class, the more I love to teach them. Each child has so much to offer! Every single one of them has such an interesting view of the world, and if given a chance, each one will open up and share their perspective. I learn something new from the kids every week. It's fascinating, exhilarating, and continually gives me hope for the world and for myself. Here's a story about one of the boys:
Today in primary we were talking about how to stay pure, and what kind of things influence us. We were using salt and pepper to decide whether things were pure or not; I showed the children a handful of pure salt, and then added pepper to it to make it "dirty" and impure. Pretty soon the terms to describe somethings purity were like this: "Hm...yeah, that movie is salty. It's okay to watch that one!" or "Well, this game is kind of violent, so I suppose it's more peppery."
We spent several minutes discussing different types of entertainment, and rating them on their salty or peppery content. The next part of the lesson was to talk about personal heroes. I asked the kids to think of their hero and to decide whether or not their chosen hero was a good one. After all of the questions I asked about a hero, such as "Does your hero swear?" and "Does your hero keep the law at all times?" one of the boys said, "Yeah...my hero matches that. Because my hero isn't from a movie or a book or a game or a TV show. My hero is my mom."
Does that just make your heart melt?! Good heavens, I actually teared up a little bit when he said that. The look on his face--he totally adores his mom.
I also teared up when two of my girls came to talk to me for a bit. One of them commented that I was helping her and the other students be pure because I was teaching them how to live the gospel. Then she came up to where I was standing at the front of the room and started playing with my braid (my hair is really long for her to be able to reach it!) and said, "And she's really pretty and she's smart and she always makes sure we're happy and learning good things." Then at the end of the lesson, another little girl brought me a picture she'd drawn on the back of the CTR (Choose the Right) handout I had for the kids. "Look! It's a picture of you, teacher, all in red because of your jacket and look, here's the book you always hold! I'm going to take it home and put it on my fridge so I can see you every day!"
Having a child to love is such an incredible blessing. When you get to watch them grow and learn, and you get to be a part of their lives...it's one of the greatest things that you could ever imagine. These kids aren't mine, but I love them as if they were! And being loved in return by a child...wow. That is pure, true, salty love, without a bit of pepper in it!