The other Sunday I watched a young father in our church group walk to the front of the chapel to bear his testimony. He was a bright smiling kind of a guy. During one part of his testimony he told the congregation he had accepted an assignment recently to be a nursery leader with his wife.
“I feel bad, like I don’t really do much to help my wife and the other lady in there,” he said. “They teach the kids lessons and sing songs and stuff like that. Mostly I just watch them doing everything.”
Boy did this guy have it wrong! You see I substituted in the nursery just two weeks before and I absolutely knew this young man was my personal nursery hero. Why?
Well to start with, everyone who has ever worked in the nursery with a large group of two-year-olds every Sunday knows there is always one particular child who is the designated . . . how do you put this nicely . . . bully. Sometimes the bully is a girl but usually it is a boy.
This is the child who waits to see what toy another child chooses to play with then dashes over and yanks it away or hits them over the head. This is also the child who finds the most frightened fellow nursery-mate then storms up to them and shoves them into the wall or metal chair. This is the child who eats everything he is not suppose to eat like play dough and boogers, drinks what he is not suppose to drink like bubble soap and glue and throws what he is not suppose to throw like red punch all over the carpet. He also likes to yell and scream a lot.
Well, I watched this young man with the apologetic testimony single-handedly save us all from the bully. In magnificent single bounds, he was able to intercept the bully before he struck again and again. I watched this young man swoop over large objects and scoop this child up in his arms many times over right before the little rascal did another unkindly deed. Not only that but I watched this male nursery worker magically distract the curly haired little bully into thinking he was playing a game with him or tossing balls. Nobody cried. Nobody got murdered. I witnessed no blood, melt-downs or screaming fits.
Why? This young man knew this child wasn’t a bully at all – he was just an average normal active bright little two-year-old boy who was still learning the social rules of his clan. He needed another male to see his awesomeness and keep him busy with boy stuff.
Nursery workers don’t think they are important. They are. These patient people give very young children their first impressions of what is feels like to be at church outside their parent’s arms. When these little tots open that door and wave good-bye to their parents for the first time, who will they find? Hopefully they find someone who responds to them just like this young man. For every nursery needs a hero . . . someone who relates to and appreciates the individual personality of each child and also super-humanly keeps them from killing each other for one more blessed Sabbath day.