Everything I need to know, I learned in Mormon nursery

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A guest post by Mette Harrison

  1. I am a child of God. This means that God is my father, and I have divine worth. There’s nothing I can do that can change my value in God’s eyes. There is no sin so great, no thought so terrible, no mistake so horrendous, that I cease to have value. (This also applies equally to everyone else in the world.)
  2. Popcorn’s popping on the apricot tree! Nature is one of the great gifts of life. Missing out on it doesn’t make you more holy or more righteous. It makes you less so. Pausing to feel joyful is part of God’s plan.
  3. Sometimes it’s my turn, sometimes it’s not. There are times when life isn’t going to go my way. I don’t get to choose those times, much as I would like to.
  4. When I’m stinky, it’s time for Mommy and Daddy. There are people who volunteer to do some of the hardest parts of caring for us. They are our family. Remember how much you need your family and treat them with as much love as you want them to offer to you.
  5. The little boy with the missing hand has the best jump shot. Adults like to make categories. Abled, disabled. White, black. Boy, girl. But in nursery, kids see the world in terms of who is interesting to play with. In our nursery, there’s a boy with one full hand and one partial hand and he is the best basketball player. Guess who everyone likes to play ball with?
  6. Who needs shoes? Shoes are a constraint that the real world puts on us. Shoes shelter our feet from the pain and rocks in life. But there are wonderful places where we can take off our shoes and feel safe and free.
  7. fingerpaintsLesson time can be fun—and short. What’s wrong with a one-sentence lesson that can be repeated a few times? If you get one sentence across that makes a difference, do you need more than that?
  8. Playdough, puzzles, and paint—it’s all learning. Adults make too many sharp distinctions between play time and work time. All play is hard work. We’re always learning. Embrace that. Find your own playdough and let it be fun.
  9. Only pour as much water in a cup as you are willing to clean up. In nursery we only pour about a half-inch of water in a tiny cup because at least once a day, a child will spill everything that was in it. Often in life, messes are as big as we allow them to be.
  10. Food makes everything better. We use food to welcome people and share good times. Eating food is a simple pleasure. Why deny it?
  11. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. Children understand death in ways that adults do not. When my youngest daughter died, my three-year-old said, “When she is alive again, we’ll play with her.” This was simple and comforting to me.
  12. Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam. We’re commanded to be the light of the world, to be the reflection of Christ at home, at work and at play. This isn’t a passive responsibility. Radiating happiness is great, but unless we actively involve ourselves in making this world heaven, we are not doing enough.
Mette Ivie Harrison

Mette Ivie Harrison

Mette Ivie Harrison is the author of many novels, including the mystery The Bishop’s Wife. She has a PhD from Princeton University and is a nationally ranked triathlete.

Here are some of Mette’s previous monthly guest posts on Flunking Sainthood:

  • Old Guy

    Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    Mettle, you are my hero! I think people gloss over that last part all too often. It means live and experience life with the joy, openness, and innocence you had before you ever heard of “religion”.

  • Old Guy

    I mean, Mette. Stupid spell checker.

  • Sharee

    Absolutely loved this!!!

  • Fletch

    Loved this post! My wife and I are in our second year in nursery. Last year, we had twelve kids in senior nursery. We had nine kids in junior nursery last Sunday. The Primary President asked us in December if wanted to be released. We both requested at least another year. This is the best church job we’ve ever had. We’re lucky to get a one sentence lesson in, and no lesson is just as good. Nothing more enjoyable than sitting on the floor and playing with little children during SS and RS/Priesthood mtgs. We look forward to seeing our lovely little friends every week.

  • Edy Meredith

    What drivel! Why can’t you write something of substance. Little children should learn the Biblical gospel.

  • ron

    Fun post. My favorite calling ever was sunbeams. I loved that they each wanted to say the closing prayer. So they all got to say it.

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  • I’ve been in Primary for 5 or 6 years now, and it’s terrific fun. Sometimes as I’m rushing to check on a class or the nursery I’ll peek into the rooms where the adults are having RS or Sunday School. And I just want to say, “Suckers!” (But I don’t, cause that would be mean, and I think someone said in Primary once that being mean was bad.)

  • Fletch

    They do learn the “Biblical gospel” every week when nursery leaders treat them with love, patience, kindness and respect.

  • Edy Meredith

    And what is the Biblical gospel that is taught to them?

  • My wife just shared something that a nun shared with her … and it seems appropriate here.

    “We’ve gotten it all wrong. Jesus played with the children, he taught the adults.”

  • Edy Meredith

    “You’ve got it all wrong.” Who are you? God or a mormon god-let to say that it’s all wrong. Jesus taught the little children to illustrate that a person must be open to learn from God. No where in the scriptures where he says to bring the little children is there the use of the Greek word meaning to play, Kevin. Do not add to the scriptures or take away from them.

  • I’m not God, nor am I Mormon.

    I’m one of God’s children and an imperfect Catholic.

    I apologize for giving offense.

    My experience teaching children about the faith has convinced me that treating it as a subject to be studied reduces it to merely one more subject amongst many; history, mathematics, reading, literature…religion. It becomes an exercise of the mind rather than a conversion of the heart.

    We need to seek ways to make the faith real by engaging the whole child. Once they’ve personally encountered God’s love, they’ll naturally gravitate toward wanting to know more about the One who loves them. Then the teaching can begin.