In our Sunday School class yesterday we discussed Matthew 18:1-4:

1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Before we read the passage, the guy who was teaching asked us to list characteristics or qualities of children, which he then wrote on the board. So people started saying things like "Humble," "Loving," "Innocent," "Trusting," "Great Budgeters," "Can Fly," etc.

Finally I raised my hand and asked, "You're looking for good qualities, right?"

Because seriously. Do these people even know any kids? It seems like every time we cover the "become as a little child" concept people sort of lose all touch with reality and start listing every desirable character trait they can think of, even if those traits are developmentally impossible for children to possess.

And really, I know kids are darling. I am moved to weepy tears and ovary spasms sometimes at how sweet and precious and loving Savvy and Ethan can be. But then there are those other moments when they do things like knock each other over and throw tantrums and spit in their mother's face on purpose.

So it's kind of funny to sit in these classes and hear people spouting on, all tearful, about how selfless children are. Because hi, kids are the most selfish beings on the planet. I'm not knocking them when I say that, I'm just saying that developmentally that's where children are--everything is all about them. And maybe we have so many rosy-colored illusions because most of us are childless and didn't just spend all morning chasing after shrieking naked peanut-butter-smeared monkey children who drove us to the brink of insanity while we contemplated just locking them in the cellar and going to church our own dang selves so we might actually get something out of it this week.


Tusk said... [reply]

Wow, it's as if none of them have read the Gospel according to Freud.

Jenny said... [reply]

Had I been at this lesson I probably would have snorted and started choking. Or I would have fallen off my chair laughing. I wasn't at this lesson though because I teach the kids. I was too busy asking the boys that sit behind my class to quit farting and burping out the primary sogs, and to pull the silver gum wrappers they'd use to make dentures out of their mouths.

C. said... [reply]

This recalls Bill Cosby's skit on how children by 18 months know how to lie to you. Yeah, I was teaching the nine year old girls this week who wanted to play Duck Duck Goose instead of have a lesson, but I'm sure that's because they were so tired of all their good characteristics that they needed to take a break for a bit.

Lady Steed said... [reply]

Thank you Nem. for saying what I could not say out loud about children.

Jér said... [reply]

"Shrieking naked peanut-butter-smeared monkey children"

This makes me giggle every time I think of it.

Cicada said... [reply]

Yeah... sometimes I really wonder if God is preventing me from marrying and having spawn because He, in His infinite wisdom, knows that I can't actually handle all those negative character traits of children...

So if you had been teaching the lesson, we could have all concluded that we need to become selfish, insolent, and demanding?

amyjane said... [reply]


April said... [reply]

The other day I babysat a friend's 7-year-old son. Every time I wouldn't let him do something, he'd say, "My mom is paying you good money." And every time I'd have to remind him, "Your mother isn't paying me any money."

Kids. Whaddya gonna do?

Jimmy said... [reply]

I was so tempted to say that our minds are on the same page, but I don't have a mind anymore. However, I do keep you and a few other people in mind as I raise my 3 kids by myself. There are lots of excuses, reasons not to be strict because of the circumstances, but none are as good as doing the job right. I'm trying! And maybe someday, I'll stop by the library there to give 'em the test run, :) Your opinion would genuinely matter, because I think you're a no-nonsense person when it comes to this stuff.

blackjazz said... [reply]

I think you're saying that the Saviour had some quite specific childish traits in mind when he said what he said. If so, I agree with you - though it hadn't really occurred to me before.

Once you've listed innocence and faith/trust I think you're pretty much done. They are the traits of children which adults often lack.

People who keep listing loads of childish traits as desirable run into trouble with 1 Cor 13:11.

stupidramblings said... [reply]

Yeah, my Sunday school teacher was quoting Lund.

I left.

daltongirl said... [reply]

I too have wondered about this. Oddly, the list is much the same when you're sitting in a room full of parents. And I'm sitting there thinking, am I the ONLY one here who has kids that call different terms to mind? I feel so alone!

Jenny, you make me laugh really hard.

And April: Holy Cow. If it had been me, I think about the second time the kid said that I would have slapped him instead of explaining I was working for free.

April said... [reply]

daltongirl, It did cross my mind. Believe me. Instead I tickled him until he couldn't breathe.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Good call, April! Because no one can accuse you of torture even though that's secretly what you were doing.


Nemesis said... [reply]

Tusk--seriously! :-)

Jen, yeah. That's the other fun part. Reminds me of the time back in Mom and Dad's ward where the lesson was built around Elder Holland's(?)talk honoring exhausted young mothers who are trying to do everything. There were no young mothers in the room because they were all off teaching other classes. So all the old ladies who were there completely changed the subject and started talking about themselves.

Exactly, C.!

Lady Steed, I think you can say it. But I'm here for you. ;-)

It makes me giggle too, Jer. Probably since they're not my peanut-butter-smeared monkey children . . .

Exactly, Cicada! Or I would have, you know, directed them to the scripture in Mosiah 3:19(Book of Mormon) that list some specific emulation-worthy characteristics of children (although I think "patience" is a stretch). And I would have said that anything more is just making stuff up.

Amyjane, I knew you would agree. We are melded, after all.

Wow, April. I seriously would have gotten tired of that kid. You are a good, good person. My favorite is when they would tell me I wasn't the boss of them. And I would say, "Actually, yes I am."

Oh dear, Jimmy. You mustn't take me too seriously, because every know-it-all thinks they know how to be a great parent until they actually have kids. Who knows what I'll be driven to when that happens!

Blackjazz, thanks for getting where I was coming from there!

Stupid, was he quoting Lund as in quoting his books of fiction or was he quoting words that he said as a member of the 70? Because if it's the first, then yeah, I'd be out of there too.

Daltongirl, thank you! See? That is my point exactly. At another point the teacher muttered something about how if you teach your kids what's right then they'll turn out fine. I so wanted to raise my hand and say, "Um . . . not much consolation to the parents out there who are doing their best and still have freakshow kids". But I felt like I should give the poor guy a break.

kristen said... [reply]

Just wait until the kids hit puberty; they ain't so sweet.

Joe & Jeri said... [reply]

I laughed so hard I cried. Seriously. Real tears.

Anonymous said... [reply]

Hey, I have one to add to your "best of" list, if you're taking votes. Do that one from Easter like 2 years ago, when one of your sisters gave you plates and the other didn't and I think there was easter grass and chocolate bread pudding. I've always liked all the comments on that one and plus all the food pictures.

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