We go to one of those churches where the kids go into age-appropriate classes where they play and have a snack and learn a lesson while the adults go into the sanctuary for the regular service. This has generally worked well for our family, but I've been looking forward to having our kids in the service with us as they get older, which Adelaide now does, being in third grade.
Adelaide can sit still and focus for long periods of time. I've seen her lounge, unmoving on the couch for hours at a time, reading a book. Because of this, I assumed she would have no trouble paying attention in church, where we're standing during the music at the beginning, sit for thirty minutes or so to listen to the sermon, then stand again for a couple songs at the end.
But Adelaide hasn't been sitting still. She's been wiggly and wriggly and restless while the pastor teaches, and when I ask her afterward what she thought of the message, I get some variation or other of a shrug and a monosyllable. "Fine." "Good." "Grunt."
Well, as of a couple weeks ago, I'd had about enough. If she was going to sit in the service, then I wanted her to get something out of it, and besides, I know she's capable of listening and understanding most of what's taught in there.
I'd seen these printable papers on Pinterest where kids could take notes during the sermon. "Brilliant," I thought, "maybe if her hands are busy it'll help her brain focus and her body be still."
The first one I found required a subscription and a fee paid to the website in order to print it off, so Adelaide and I consulted the almighty google to find another, free, version, because for the record, she was completely on board with this. We ended up finding that one up there, which I know is fuzzy, but that's about as clear as I'm able to make it on here. It's a free, printable PDF, and you can find it right here.
Honestly, of all the Sundays for me to be on the ball, this was not the one. Because this little piece of paper worked, all right. Adelaide was scribbling all kinds of fun vocabulary words in that "Words I don't know" section, words like "prostitute," and "explicit" and "seman [sic]". In the general "Notes" section she wrote "I don't understand what this story is really about but it seems really weird," among other things. Yes, indeed, Adelaide focused extra hard on the Sunday featuring the sweet, sparkling story of a girl who pretends to be a prostitute and sleeps with her father-in-law, only after she's slept with one of her brothers-in-law, all in an effort to merely survive in the patriarchal society that existed in early Old Testament times.
After the service, of course, Adelaide wanted to have an in-depth discussion about what all those words meant, but I had had enough. I had once again dipped my toe in the pool of over-achievement, and look where it had landed me: in a boat with a dirty old man named Judah and phrases like "spilled his seed on the ground" that I now had to explain to my 8-year-old. I told her we'd go over the whole thing tomorrow or pretty much anytime that wasn't today, because I was done for today.
I should note that the pastor warned everyone about the subject matter before he began teaching, and said that he realized there were kids in the service. He also said he had no problem with them being taught this lesson, because don't kid yourself, children are hearing about sex elsewhere; shouldn't they be taught correctly within the context of the family and the church?
Our daughter handled it fine when we went over her notes a couple days later, and we talked about how all the people- save one- in the Bible were all just, well, people, human beings who were flawed and sinful and about the subsequent need for a perfect Messiah, so it all worked out fine in the end, as it generally does, but still. I don't think I'll ever be able to hear the words "Please open to Genesis, chapters 38 and 39" again without flinching.