Posted tagged ‘teaching three year olds’

Playing Hoops Against the 8th Graders

May 25, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May 25, 2019

                              

They hoot and holler as I emerge from the locker room wearing gym shorts, tee shirt, and lily white Air Jordan sneakers. Most of them haven’t seen me in anything but sweat pants or jeans. The paleness of the skin IS a bit alarming!

I’ve been their coach, but never competed against them. Today, however, is the Student-Staff basketball game, an event each year where players who were part of the school 8th grade basketball teams strut onto the court to teach their science, math, and social studies teachers a lesson. 

To them I’m just an old man who knows his “x’s’ and o’s”. They don’t realize that I have a jump shot and can see the court well, even though I take my glasses off when I play. The staff also has “Big Matt”, who measures at about 6’6”, a former college football player who can’t jump or shoot, but…hey! He’s 6’6” and beefy! He causes some of students to “reconsider” every time they have an opportunity to take the basketball into the lane.

Mr. Williams, seventh grade science teacher, has been playing at lunchtime with his students. He’s developed into a shooter, at least for this annual game! Mr. McKinney, despite a sore knee, is fundamentally sound and my coaching compadre!

But the students think that they are all that and a slice of Swiss Cheese! They only have five more days of middle school, and it’s time to leave their mark on the staff! To dominate and then leave like Clint Eastwood at the end of each of his westerns, riding off into the sunset.

One thing, however, that has remained consistent through the years about these basketball games is that the staff plays “team ball” and the students play as individuals. The bodies of the staff might be a bit achy and moving slower, but we know that the whole is better than the sum of the parts. 

Big Matt towers in the lane like Shaq and Mr. Reynolds, who teaches most of the players in social studies, is making them pay for not remembering the three branches of our government. He’s administering “justice” to them, “legislating” pain, and “executing” the game plan. By the middle of the third quarter the lead has hit double figures and keeps growing.

The crowd of students and staff watching from the bleachers cheer on their friends and foes and by the fourth quarter everyone is simply enjoying the event. I close out the game with a half court swish shot at the buzzer and smiles emerge from both sides. For the students, their teachers have become human. For the staff, the students have minimized their swag and enjoyed the moment. 

The next day the kids who I competed against greet me with high fives and looks of amazement. Instead of mentioning my pale-skinned legs they tell me that my sneakers are cool! Instead of my slow defense they talk about my half court shot! 

And what I don’t tell them is that I maxed out on Motrin the night before and soaked my aching body in the hot tub! They are the epilogue to the finished story!

Being Mistaken For God

October 31, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            October 30, 2014

                                    

This year I’m teaching the three and four year old’s Sunday School class. It’s not often that the pastor teaches a class like that, but I’m enjoying it. Some would say that I’ve finally found some people that I can relate to! Each Sunday a mixture of excited and apprehensive kids enter the classroom. One of them, a little boy, who just turned three, named Ben, usually has his cowboy boots on as he arrives at “Sonshne Club.”

Ben has not reached that age where his speech is clear, as is also the case for a couple of the other kids in the class…but he’s not afraid to speak!

Last night he came bopping into the church gym with his mom and little sister and said a few words to me that I couldn’t make out. It was at that point that his mom told me that he was saying hello, but he refers to me as “God!”

He thinks I’m God! I’ve been called a few other names in my lifetime, but I think this is the first time I’ve been mistakenly named God. It’s a big responsibility to carry! I’ve known some people who act like they are God, but not too many who get named God. I’ve always been “Billy” or “Billy Dean.” Back in high school I was nicknamed “Beowulf”, which got shortened to “Beo.” Bill Wolfe sounds remarkably like Beowulf, especially if your sophomore English class is reading the story at the time.

But back to God…in one three year old cowboy-booted boy’s eyes I’m God. I’m sure that won’t last for long, and someday soon I’ll be renamed Pastor Bill, but for now I’m the Man with a Plan, the Head Honcho, the Almighty and Up-righty!

On the positive side, when someone thinks your God it makes you step back a bit and think about what you’re doing and what you’re saying. If Ben continues to seek God he will remember whether or not I was a godly reflection.

After all, each follower of Jesus is a reflection of Christ. Sometimes the reflection is tainted and confusing, and sometimes it’s a Christ-honoring picture.

This Sunday when Ben comes strolling into class looking like a Pony Express rider and calling me God I’ll tell him he’s blessed and that God loves him. He will probably respond with a few words that I may not be able to decipher, so I’ll smile, give him a high-five,  and tell him it’s good to have him in God’s class!

Amen!

 

My Three Year Old World

September 15, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        September 15, 2014

                                     

I’ve noticed something a little strange! A growing percentage of my life is being spent with three year olds. As I’ve mentioned in recent writings, I’m coaching a soccer team of three year olds. And now…this past Sunday I began co-teaching a Sunday School class mostly of three year olds.

About twenty-five years ago Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. I’m thinking of a revision, without Fulghum’s permission, entitled “Most Of What I Know Now Was Learned From Three Year Olds.” I may have to shorten the title, but the thought resonates with me.

Here’s a couple of things I’ve discovered from three year olds.

What you say…they take literally! My granddaughter was playing goalie in our soccer game on Saturday for one of the quarters. Coach Tony who helps us told her that when the ball came towards her she was to jump on it.

She did exactly what he said! When the ball came towards her she jumped on it…with her feet. Jumping to her means jumping up in the air and landing back on your feet again. So…she tried to land on top of the ball with her feet, but her timing was off…so, in essence, she jumped up just in time for the ball to pass under her and into the goal.

Three year olds take things literally. It’s also why you can talk about polka-dotted ponies and whispering caterpillars with them and they believe. Perhaps that’s why Jesus talked to his followers about having a child-like faith. Faith requires that you take God at his word! Thirty-three year olds aren’t as good at that. Neither are sixty-three year olds. Too much skepticism has been spoken into our lives at those points.

Here’s something else I’ve learned from three year olds! What is important isn’t really what’s important! I had a schedule for Sunday School class this past Sunday. I had a lesson plan. I had times attached to each part of the lesson. Half of the plan got accomplished. None of the students got upset at missing out on “Activity #4”. What was important to them was Goldfish crackers, singing “Jesus Loves Me” accompanied by a classroom full of percussionists, and coloring a picture of a school bus to take home with them. Likewise, three year old soccer players don’t keep score. They giggle, look at airplanes flying overhead, and play with the assurance that their will be a snack time after the final whistle. What is important to them is having a coach that will give them a high five, pick them up when they fall down, and help them tie their shoes. Simple things. Uncomplicated things like Jesus loves them this they know…for the Bible tells them so!

One more thing they’ve taught me…so far! Play is just as important as work! The soccer field we run around on is right next to a playground with swings, a slide, and monkey bars. Several times so far I’ve had players take a soccer break and meander over to the slide. Their soccer “responsibilities” can wait, even though their coach is sensing “they aren’t taking this seriously!” Their lives will be filled with work soon enough, and at that point they will wonder why their playtime had to decrease and, for some, disappear.

Teaching a three year old Sunday School class requires being able to still play some. It requires getting down on the carpet even though you’re not sure how quickly you’ll be able to get back up again.

As I tell the high school basketball players I coach, the game is played closer to the floor than in the air. Three year olds prove that…especially the playing part!