Sunday, October 9, 2011

The rest of the story. . . .Sunbeams

I realized that I have never followed up with you all on what happened with my challenging call to be a Sunbeam teacher. Would you like to know now?

It took a fairly complex strategy -- and just sheer hanging on through several months. . . .


I was assigned a great co-teacher, who was flexible enough to step in and take over when I was wrassling with a defiant or wailing child.  We may not have always seen eye-to-eye on how things should be handled, but she was unfailingly dependable in being there and doing her best to help.

I was released from my calling as ward music chair. (If I had my druthers at the time, I would have chosen to keep that one and lose the Primary one, but the Church is true! I know that callings are made and changed through inspiration.) It was a great relief to have only one calling to work on.

DC took Rosebud during the first hour. I was so grateful that later on, as the Sunbeams started to adjust and be happier and better behaved, I was able to take her back during that time. I loved having her on my lap as we all sang songs and listened to Sharing Time. It took several months to get to that point, though. . . .

A dear friend in the ward took it upon herself to become Rosebud's guardian angel during the class-time hour. She took her to Relief Society cuddling her as if she were her own grandchild. I was amazed at how happy Rose was whenever I emerged from the class and found her there on Mary's lap.

We came up with a firm routine. I made sunbeam magnets with the kids' pictures on them that we put up one by one at the beginning of class. We had fruit snacks on a blanket and held hands when we walked to the bathroom, and all kinds of little rituals that they learned to count on. And the amazing thing was to see that every single week, they seemed a little older and a little more able to cope with being asked to sit and listen and participate for two hours. I am convinced that a 3-year-old is a completely different animal than a 4-year-old!


The defiant child. . . what really helped me with him was hearing someone say they wished his Nursery leader were teaching with me, because he REALLY loved her. I've always had a bit of a competitive streak and that pricked me into a determination that he would love me just as much! That switch from just trying to get through each Sunday with him, to trying to really like him and help him like me made all the difference. By March he always wanted to be sitting by me and rarely challenged me any more in class.

The wailing child. . . for a few weeks his mom came with him. Then she said he needed to just quit cold turkey, or he never would adjust. So we gave it a shot, and man, it was rough! For weeks I spent all of Singing Time and Sharing Time in the hallway with him crying and screaming in my arms. Ward member after sympathetic ward member passing by would either stop and try in vain to help or just look at me and shake their heads, openly grateful that it was me and not them! Then I learned that this little boy spoke mostly Spanish at home, and so I  started trying to comfort him in Spanish. (This was kind of a joke, seeing as I don't speak Spanish, but I learned one or two phrases and repeated them in a compassionate tone. :) Eventually I could at least enter the Primary Room with him and stand at the back without him screaming. Then we could sit in the back row. Eventually we made our way to sitting with our class.

The funny thing is that the two children that were so difficult for so long ended up being the ones I miss the most now.

Yes, I miss them now! Because in August, the Primary president took me aside and told me she was reassigning me. I was floored. I thought I was definitely in for the long haul, and would probably be the Sunbeam teacher until we moved or something. She asked if I would mind being in the Nursery now. Would I??!! So now I have the delight of taking Rosemary to Nursery and then staying there and playing with her and the other little ones and getting to see her interact with them and her wide eyes as we have the lesson and her chubby little fingers pick up each goldfish cracker. It is awesome.


100 days of gratitude tagI am grateful for what I learned from this assignment and its difficult timing. I am grateful for the love I grew to have for those 5 little children of God. And I am grateful to be in Nursery now. :)




Annalisa said...[Reply to comment]

What a blessing to have fulfilled your duty and helped those sunbeams and now to be in nursery ...Awesome.

Vauna said...[Reply to comment]

What a beautiful ending to a wonderful story. Bethany had a hard time adjusting to going to primary as a sunbeam. It didn't help that we moved in February, only a month after becoming a sunbeam. I would hand her to her teacher and she would cry as I left. Then she stayed in her teacher's arms, clingy, for the rest of the time. But after a few months with loving and devoted teachers, she suddently started just running into the primary room and taking her own seat! Sunbeam teachers have a special and important role. So do nursery leaders! I'm glad you made it through and are with Rosebud now! You are such an inspiration to me.

Andrea said...[Reply to comment]

I am so glad that you shared that story. It is funny how that Lord works. Isaac sure misses you. You were a great sunbeam teacher.

Andre said...[Reply to comment]

So funny! I am in Nursery and would rather be there than in Sunbeams. (I've done that too) It all has to do with being prepared and sticking to the routine. I'm also very fortunate that my husband is my partner. I have learned the hard way too that all callings are given us for a reason. Even nursery.

Martie said...[Reply to comment]

Hi Michelle. I just wanted you to know that you're in my thoughts and prayers this week. I hope you have comfort and oeace in your heart.

Much love,


Tasha said...[Reply to comment]

Thanks for sharing! I've thought of you often and wondered how you were managing. Glad to hear it got better. And your sunbeam magnets are way cuter than mine were!