After teaching in many different capacities (Children’s Church, Sunday School, Christian School Teacher, Friends & Heroes, etc) for some 47 years, I have learned one extremely important fact. Kids are fairly smart human beings. I’ve come to realize it’s wise to listen to what they’re saying once in a while. When I do listen to them I’m sure to experience something new. Case in point…
Several years ago we were using two dog puppets, Suzi and Ruff, as part of our Children’s Church curriculum. Every Sunday we would use the dogs to bring life application to a Biblical truth we were studying and just about every Sunday the children would ask if the dogs were boyfriend and girlfriend.
Every week they would get the same answer, “No.” One week in particular when I said, “No!” the children wanted to know why the answer was always no. “Why can’t they be boyfriend and girlfriend?” “Is there a law that says dogs can’t have boyfriends and girlfriends?” “My grandma said her dog has a boyfriend that lives across the street from her house.”
I finally talked with my Children’s Church staff and asked them the same thing. We decided that these fairly smart human beings were onto something. We started allowing the two dogs to express interest in each other and made it obvious that there was a “like” connection. I did make it clear to my puppeteers (teenagers) that there was to be no amorous affection displayed. Even when we announced they were officially “courting” each other, there was very little display of affection. We wanted it to be about them getting to know each other and not about kisses and hugs.
It was fun to watch them grow more in like as they pursued a relationship with each other and with Jesus. The children absolutely went ballistic the week we announced Ruff’s and Suzi’s engagement. Even then there wasn’t a whole lot of physical attraction displayed but it was apparent by their words and actions they were very much in love.
When their wedding day arrived we decorated the Children’s Church room like a wedding chapel. We had the children dress up in their finest clothing. There was an actual ceremony where Ruff and Suzie finally professed their love one to the other and kissed. Afterwards, we had a reception complete with wedding cake and punch.
They “registered” at Target…we had the women’s ministry make a list of needed kitchen items…and the children were encouraged to bring inexpensive gifts which could be used in the church’s kitchen. Each child opened the gift they gave to the happy couple.
We didn’t stop with the wedding. A couple months later we announced that Ruff and Suzi were going to be parents. Since Ruff and Suzi where white fluffy dogs we made five puppets out of white socks. Once we announced the birth of the puppies we then had a baby shower for them. Again, we encouraged the children to bring inexpensive gifts that could be utilized in the church’s nursery. We played games and once again finished with cake and punch.
The puppies led praise songs in Children’s Church. They learned about Jesus. They had great times bonding together. They argued just like ever other sibling. They lived lives to which the children could totally relate. We had a blast! But to be honest, it was a lot of work and so after about 7 months of friendship, courtship, marriage and puppies we had the family move away. It was a lot of work but we sure did create some great memories.
I’m thankful the Lord put something special in the heart of our children which made us think outside the normal box of learning. If I hadn’t listened to the children we wouldn’t have these incredible memories that we still reminiscence about whenever we get together.
You know, children really are smart human beings and sometimes it’s to our benefit to listen to them.