This evening one of my responsibilities was to watch over the children’s room. Some of the children I knew personally, because they were local brethren or from families I have met in my travels around the area, and some of the kids were completely unfamiliar to me. Just before we closed down the kids’ room, we had the children play a game of Duck Duck Goose. Kids being kids, they chose to name other animals besides ducks and geese, and one of the girls who attends my congregation kept on getting called a moose. She did not seem particularly pleased by this, which made the kids call her a moose more often, since kids like to do what bothers or annoys others. (In all fairness, some of us never entirely grow out of that tendency.) Among the funniest lines of the evening was watching this girl say lines like, “I am a moose!” in an indignant tone of voice whenever someone called her a moose. Needless to say, this made me laugh at loud.
Nor was this the only amusing event to come out of the couple of hours I spent with those little ones. There was the story of three gossipy girls (two of whom are in my Sabbath School class) who impressed their parents greatly by doing a 3-person hand game, and it was refreshing to see their faces beam in the appreciation and praise that they received from others (especially their parents). There were fussy and tired babies, and pensive and reflective kids, and kids wanting their mommies and daddies, and kids being super competitive with each other. One other funny story that made me laugh out loud was the time the kids tried to play Simon Says. The boy who was playing ‘Simon’ picked his nose and was trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to say “Simon says you can do anything you want,” but the kid did not seem particularly interested in picking their noses. One girl went up to one of the adults who was there and asked, “Do I have to do that?” Shortly thereafter, after the kids melted away and didn’t want to play, the boy himself went up and asked, “Why did the game last so short?” but we didn’t have the heart to tell him why, we just laughed as we watched it happen.
I often find it more than a little bit ironic that I am often one of the only men in a given congregation or area who ends up with the responsibility of watching kids. This is all the more ironic seeing as I have no children myself, nor any immediate prospects for them , and seeing as my own childhood was highly unpleasant. I find it greatly refreshing and a lightening of my own heavy burden to watch the silliness and happiness of children most of the time. I find the innocence of children to be greatly enjoyable, seeing as in some essential ways I have always been a bit of a kid at heart myself, and even given the life I have lived, I suppose I will always have at least some part of me that is carefree and youthful, at least as long as life is tolerable at all.
Yet that love of innocence carries with it a certain responsibility. As it happens, today I had to fill out the sexual misconduct policy that is required of all adults who work with teens. I am a bit surprised that I was not asked to fill out this form before in Portland, but I suppose I slipped through the cracks. The policy is a very serious one, seeking to protect the young people of the Church as well as the organization itself from lawsuits and liability issues. Included in that policy are some very specific procedures that are designed to keep young people (as well as the adults who work with them) safe. Following the rules and procedures in that sheet definitely makes life a lot less complicated. Better late than never, I suppose. Needless to say, I signed the form so that my local pastor could have it on file and kept the procedures for myself so I can read on them, reflect on them, and apply them to my own behavior to keep myself out of any kind of unnecessary trouble with the young people I work with.
Of course, when I was not busy watching over kids, I was looking for people to dance with. While I did have at least some success in dancing with people (I was trying not to single anyone out, so I did not dance more than once with anyone), I found it to be a bit of a lonely time at the dance, seeing as there were definitely quite a few people there who seemed like they were in couple mode. I found it more than a little dispiriting that I spend a great deal of time around people either much younger or much older than myself, but while I am a witness of the marriages and dating of others, and of the lives of children and teens, I have made so little progress in my own desires for a family of my own. Perhaps at some point the time spent in helping to serve others will serve me well in my own longings and hopes. I suppose until then I will be a moose too.