What Do You Do When Preschoolers Declare, “We Want to Go to Hell”?
(This event occurred at the same church school mentioned in the last article, “Mishaps in Teaching #1.”)
Being a typical school day – I didn’t say normal because our days were never normal – my assistant, Ambur, and I were doing our thing in the Kindergarten/First Grade classroom. Midmorning, Paul White, a childcare worker (we offered babysitting for our teachers), came downstairs interrupting my class. He said he had a situation and wasn’t for sure how to handle it.
Two of the preschool boys got into a discussion about Satan and hell. Understanding that Satan is the bad guy, the boys decided they wanted to go to hell to beat him up. Paul tried to explain to Brandon and Jared they didn’t have to beat up Satan. Jesus already did it by dying on the cross and coming back to life on the third day. Heavy topic for the three-year-old boys to grasp. I did the best I could in breaking it down for them, but I didn’t do a particularly good job either.
I reassured Paul I’d let the parents know so they could help the boys understand why they didn’t have to go to hell and have a face-off with Satan. Well, I forgot.
You see, we only had Kindergarten in the mornings for the first couple years at the church school. Once class dismissed, I drove two kindergartners and one preschooler home. (We were a small church school and I doubled as “bus driver” too.) On that particular day, we ran into another incident which made me forget all about Satan and hell.
In the car, the two kindergarteners were talking. Holly told Gunnar she thought it was cool how his father could screw his thumb off and on. Gunnar’s father had lost his thumb in a work accident several years ago and he liked to trick the children into to thinking he could indeed screw off his thumb. He used his good thumb as part of the trick and to the children it did look real.
Gunnar and I tried to explain to Holly it was a trick but, to her literal way of thinking, she knew what she saw. By the time we got to the house, she was in tears. I explained to her mother what happened, and she said she’d have a talk with her. I returned to school for my afternoon classes.
I forgot about Satan and hell until Jeanne called me later in the day. As soon as I answered the phone, she asked me, “Do you want to tell me why my son wants to go to hell?”
After I took them home, Jeanne and the kids went grocery shopping. When they got to the store, Jared jumped out of the van. To his mother’s horror, he declared loudly to everybody within hearing, “I want to go to hell.”
What can I say? Oops, my bad. I forgot. It made me think of the song, “Momma said there’d be days like this.” Truth be told, folks, there’s never a dull moment when you hang with children.
Holly, Gunnar, Jared, and Brandon are adults now. Hey guys, thanks for the memories and laughs. Those were good times.