Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Memorable Children's Class

I just can't resist. I really have to tell you about this. I still can't believe it really happened, but it did.

Last week, Shoghi went to a friend's house and invited the little boy, Ethan, over for a party. Marielle and I first heard about it when the father called us to apologize because his son couldn't make it to said party.

"What party", we asked.

"Why, your son's party... Oh."

But we didn't discourage him. We asked the father if his son could make it the next day, and then proceeded to ask Shoghi about it. More to the point, we told Shoghi about it. We explained that parties usually take a bit of preparation and are not something that you can really just do at the very last moment. (Well, you can, but you understand the point we were trying to make.) We asked him what his theme was going to be, and what activities the kids would do. In other words, we asked him to prepare for it.

His theme, which he chose on his own, was generosity. Now as you may know from some previous posts, Shoghi has a special affinity with that particular virtue. He selected a story and an activity.

The next day, when Ethan came over, I gave them the definition. I said that generosity was when you give someone something that they can use. "Would I be generous", I asked them, "if I gave you a banana peel?" They agreed that would just be silly, and not generous at all. Anyways, you can actually read more about that class... oh excuse me, I mean party.... here.

Needless to say, it was a success, as Ethan and Shoghi wanted to do it again this week. When I asked him, Shoghi decided on helpfulness as this week's theme. He also invited other children, which is a good sign.

When they all arrived, we went out in the back and played a bit of ball. While we were kicking around the soccer ball, and some of them were climbing, I asked them who knew what helpfulness was. The response was about what you would expect from a group of 6 year old children.

After explaining it to them, I told them the story of Lua Getsinger and how 'Abdu'l-Baha had asked her to visit a friend of his. I'm sure you know the story. It's the one where she went to his home and was totally repulsed. The stench, the filth, everything. When she went back to the Master, He said that if the place was dirty, she should clean it. If the man was filthy, she should bathe him. If he was ill, nurse him. Hungry? Feed him.

She did, and it completely changed the course of her life, and her sense of service to humanity.

After the story, I asked them what they could do to be helpful. Their immediate response was to help me bake cookies, and so we all went into the kitchen and began.

And this is where things began to get interesting.

You see, they left the back door open, and one of the cats, who had been out, decided to come back at that exact moment.

With a guest.

Or, most of a guest.

I'm sure the class would have gone a bit better if my cat hadn't proudly come into the kitchen, while we were making cookies, with a disemboweled baby bunny.

Which she proceeded to rub up against the leg of one of the little girls.

I can only say that I'm very impressed with her. The girl, not the cat. She sort of got this interesting look and, with great expression on her face and in her voice, said, "Yuck."

At this point, I would have thought that this would have been enough. But then the children noticed that the bunny was still alive. Very much still alive.

So there was this poor baby bunny, who, you may recall, was still disemboweled, and really wanted nothing more than to not be there. There was the cat who really wanted nothing more than to continue to play with her little prize, as she was sure by this point that I didn't really appreciate the magnitude of the gift which she brought home for me. There was also a house full of six-year old children who somehow felt that the best thing would be to try and set the poor baby bunny free. Two of these three were all for the bunny going free, but the third would have none of it, and proceeded to try and drag her treasure away.

If it weren't for the blood, and the bunny who was by this point in a state of shock, it would have been pricelessly funny. Slapstick at its highest, and saddest.

I'm certain that none of the children suffered from this experience, but I can't say the same for said rabbit. (Or said author.)

The children were all quite surprised by how calmly I took this, or at least seemed to. Nothing calms children down more than an adult who is not freaking out, however much they may want to.

I looked with sympathy at the poor girl and said that I would clean up her pants, which I did. I laughed at the mess of it, while applying a stain remover, which I then wiped off with paper towels and cold water. By making the appropriate "yuck" noises with her, I think we did well.

I was also able to swiftly put the poor rabbit out of its misery, with sad looks of shock from all concerned. By talking about it, and how ending the suffering was really the best thing for it, I watched as their shock moved to understanding. We spoke at length about how cruel it would have been to let the poor animal suffer when it was so obviously about to die.

After all this was said and done, we did manage to finish baking the cookies, and even eat a few.

At the very end, I asked them what virtue they wanted to look at next week. "Compassion?"

They chose cheerfulness.

What? They want something more cheerful than a disemboweled baby bunny?

Well, hopefully next week won't have such a teachable moment.

At least I was able to clean up all the blood before my wife got home.

Hmm. Come to think of it, she's still not home. I just know that when she arrives, she'll ask me how the class went. Perhaps that can be my answer: "How did it go? Great. I mean, at least I was able to clean up all the blood before you got here."

1 comment:

  1. Love it. As someone who's grown up with cats, and whose daughter will someday be old enough for children's parties, I can imagine everything you describe happening to me.