Posted tagged ‘three year olds’

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!

 

Taking A Three Year Old to the Magic Kingdom

October 23, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       October 23, 2014

                     

Our family recently spent five days at Disney World. Seven of us trudged to the airport at 4:30 in the morning to catch a flight towards Goofy and his friends. For five days we side-stepped strollers and motorized wheelchairs to make our way through the Magic Kingdom and its side-kicks…Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. It was a family trip to remember!

The last time we had been to Disney World was twenty years ago when our oldest daughter, Kecia, was turning 13. It was evident that she was as excited to return again this time as she had been in 1994. Her excitement this time, however, was not due to her own anticipation of riding on the “It’s A Small World” attraction once again, but rather to watch the reactions of her kids to the Disney mystique.

They were enthralled by the experience. Riding on Dumbo…having lunch at the Sci-Fi restaurant…meeting Donald Duck at the over-priced character breakfast…taking the mono-rail…wearing Mickey Mouse ears…and seeing the wild animals on their safari ride.

Massive amounts of energy! Wide-eyed wonder!

For me, the best part of the trip was simply being with the family and watching them experience things. Sometimes I enjoyed watching Kecia as she watched her kids!

The magical moments for me weren’t the Disney attractions, but rather things that don’t cost money…like our granddaughter Reagan making up songs in the van on the drive back to the hotel at night…or our grandson Jesse’s open mouth as he went through the Buzz Lightyear ride…or riding “Rockin’ Roller Coaster” with my son…twice! Or eating funnel cakes with Kecia…or seeing the delight on Carol’s face as she saw the enjoyment her family was having.

Although the Magic Kingdom does a magic trick on your bank account…it makes it disappear just like that…our family will always remember the time we had together on this trip.

Interestingly enough, my Aunt Irene paid for our 1994 Disney trip. She was battling cancer. Having no children of her own she gave a sum of money to each of our twelve nieces and nephews while she was still living. Her request was that we use it on something that we would enjoy…while she was still alive to see it! Six months after we went to Disney World she passed away, but she was thrilled that we had taken the family vacation to Florida.

When we look back on our lives most of us will realize that there were those rare opportunities of family memories that we took advantage of…that we didn’t let them slip away. They don’t necessarily have to be trips to magic kingdoms or foreign countries, but they do need to be experiences where, as family, we are together…laughing, singing, telling stories and creating new stories.

Spending time with a three year old is magic in motion!

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!

 

Coaching Three Year Old Spiders

September 6, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    September 6, 2014

                                 

This morning at way too early…with wet grass glistening…nine three year olds arrived at the soccer field, accompanied by parents holding cups of Starbucks coffee, for our second practice and first game.

Thirty minutes of practice followed by thirty minutes of a “game.” To call it a game would be similar to calling the school custodian a maintenance bio-engineer- there is some element of truth hidden deep within the title.

Coach Carol- also known as Mrs. Carol Wolfe- bought a balloon to take to the game with Spiderman on it. We tied it to one of the goals to help our confused three’s know which was our goal. It also helped us figure out our team name: Spiders! One young guy who had worn a Spiderman jacket the first week was totally excited about that being our name. Plus, I wasn’t really too enamored by the suggestions from last week: Butterflies, Butterfingers, Pink Toes, and Pizza Hut!

In our short practice we worked on kicking the ball hard. Some are still not comfortable with such violence. I assured them that they could not “bully” their soccer ball. They looked unconvinced!

We welcomed four new kids who missed the first week. One of them ran around most of the time pretending to be an airplane.  Another was so scared she never left her mom’s side. “Playing time” is not a big concern of hers right now, unless you’re talking about the swing set.

Right as we had herded the spiders to the correct side of the field to start our game two of our players needed a drink of water. The “airplane” player was coming in for a landing…on the next field over!

The game started and we kicked the ball…not necessarily in the right direction, but we kicked it. One of our girls runs like a horse- not a thoroughbred, mind you! A prancing play pony on two legs. One little girl fell and ran to Mommy. One little boy kept asking when snack-time was going to be. Another little boy was contesting the soccer ball one time with a boy from the other team. “Winning the ball” had not been clearly defined to him. He did a two-hand shove of the opposing three-year old and took the ball away. An opposing player picked up the ball one time and started heading towards the parking lot.

And then it was over! All survived and all got the much-anticipated snacks of the morning. I asked the Spiders what they had learned that day: Kick the ball at Spider-Man, kick the ball hard, and stop being so cute (Just kidding)!

Kids left with smiles on their faces, parents checked iPhone photos taken, and Coach Carol and Coach Bill started thinking about nap-time!

 

Coaching Players 57 Years Younger Than Me!”

September 2, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      September 1, 2014

                       

I entered a new phase of my coaching career this past Saturday. I had the first soccer practice with a new team of three year olds!

Three year olds! A three year old has been alive five percent of my life!

Why three year olds? My granddaughter is on the team…her first team experience ever…so Granddad and Grammy are the coaches.

The practice did not involve soccer ball juggling or players getting to open space, as we say. There was no instruction on defending or setting off-sides traps. No…the practice included asking each player what their favorite lunch food items were.

“Macaroni and cheese!”

“Pepperoni pizza!”

“Peanut butter and jelly!”

Notice I put exclamation marks after each favorite lunch. That’s because each was said with enthusiasm…especially my granddaughter’s pepperoni pizza.

We transitioned to stretching.

“Okay! See if you can touch your toes without bending your knees (I can’t!).”  One three year old boy fell over and concluded that stretching was not his strong point. He looked with a pained facial expression at his mom and dad. A couple of the girls thought stretching was fun.

“Okay! Let’s take our soccer balls and put them between our feet.” Two kids with limited coordination fell down just taking steps. Two others put the soccer ball between their feet and sat on them. It’s about at this time that I decided it would be good to get a water break. We had been hard at it for almost five minutes.

I crossed off the slide tackling drill we were going to do!

“Okay! Let’s learn how to dribble. Everybody look down at your soccer ball and say “Hi!”

They all thought that was cool…talking to soccer balls was now on the same level of excitement as favorite lunch choices.

“Now, let’s use the inside of our foot and kick the ball all the way to the white line.”

Ever seen one of those crawling baby races where the babies are released and they head in a dozen different directions? Our first attempt at dribbling a soccer ball was like that. It brought back memories of my old electric football game when I was growing up that no one ever figured out. How was a tackle ever made in electric football? It wasn’t!

Water break!

“Okay! Say hello to your soccer ball again, and let’s go take shots on the goal!”

One thing I learned about three year olds is that they are scared that they will hurt their precious soccer ball. One of the girls had Barbie or some pink character on hers, and now I’m telling them to kick it hard!

Dainty and gentle would be better descriptions of our foot to ball contact at the first practice.

Water break!

A couple of the boys were reaching the end of their attention span. They spotted the swings and slide in the back of the park. I lost them!

In all, I think we had a good thirty-five minutes of practice. Take away the favorite lunch conversation, water breaks, and getting to know their soccer ball on a casual conservation basis…okay, maybe twenty minutes, but it was a hard twenty!

And I was exhausted!

 

     

Driving Miss Reagan

May 13, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May 13, 2014

 

                                         “Driving Miss Reagan”

 

It started as soon as I entered the house through her front door.

“Granddad, I’m having waffles for breakfast.” (I won’t pepper my writing with her pronunciation, but breakfast comes from her lips sounding like “bweckfust.”)

I had volunteered for this chauffeuring duty, filling in for Miss Reagan’s dad, also my son-in-law, who was working out of town for a few days. Driving my three year old granddaughter around for a few minutes each morning sounded great.

For a three year old, Reagan can talk more than a stumping politician. Her “l’s” and “r’s” still sound like “w’s”. Last week when I showed her a scratch on my arm she asked, “Did it bweed?”

Without her older brother to share chat time with she is all out…constant…dizzying chatter!

“Granddad, would you cawwy my waffle…and be very careful, because if the wind gets it I will not be happy!”

     “Yes ma’am!”

      The twelve minute car ride to her other grandmother’s house has more topics of conversation than Time magazine has articles each issue.

“Granddad, do you like fire twucks?” 

      “Sure…it’s good to have a fire truck when there is a fire that is burning.”

      “I was in a fire when we stayed at a hotel.”

       “Oh…really!”

      “It was scawy!”

       “I can imagine!”

       “I wike wooking out windows. Do you wike wooking out windows?”

       “Yes. Windows are good.”

       “Does Grammy like windows?”

       “I suppose. We haven’t really had much conversation about it.”

      From behind my driver’s seat I can hear her taking a long sip of apple juice from her sippy cup, ending with a faint “ahhh” sound of satisfaction.

“Granddad, there’s a Chick-fil-A!”

      “Yes, there it is! Maybe we’ll go there for dinner this week. I think I’ll get a chicken salad.”

      “Noooooo….not chicken sawad! You’re siwwy, Granddad!”

      “Why is chicken salad silly?”

      “You have to get chicken strwips!”

      “Is that what you get?”
“Yes, with honey barbecue sauce and waffle fwies!”

      “Oh…okay!”

      “Do you like to dweam, Granddad?”

      “Sure…I guess I do. You mean when I’m sweeping…I mean, sleeping?”
“Yes, I dweam about Puggles and wearing new shoes and cotton candy.”

      “Oh…that’s nice. Are all those in the same dream?”

      “Noooooo…….Granddad, don’t be siwwy!”

      Being silly is a necessary element of a grandfather’s conversation with his three year old backseat passenger. The journey ends and Miss Reagan dances an original step in front of me to her “Nana” Hodges’ house.

I ring the doorbell and she bangs on the door. Nana greets her and Reagan is ready for the next conversation.

Granddad gets back in the car and leaves younger than I was fifteen minutes before!