Will happily survived a half-week of Vacation Bible School this week before we head to Atlanta and then the beach. He had been struggling a bit with nerves and shyness while attending another summer camp and Vacation Bible School. He's got shy genes from my side of the family, although I don't point this out to him since I don't want to reinforce it. But this summer he would inevitably feel a sore throat or tummy ache or general sense of dread coming on as we drove to the sort of anxiety-inducing situations (for Will at least) where a bunch of kids are thrown together to "have fun" for one week of summer. Some very nice teachers and counselors got him through.
But as we drove to our first day of the Wynnton UMC Vacation Bible School on Monday, Will started complaining of a sore throat.
I told him I was sure he was fine, and then I tried to talk with him really frankly about living in the present. I told him as a new high school teacher I used to get a bit nervous at the thought of trying to teach in front of 30 students, but that once I was in the moment, up there in front of the students talking with them, I loved my job and I loved my interactions with the kids. I realized how important it is to not think ahead too much, to just really enjoy the moment I'm in. I haven't perfected presence by any means, but I talked to Will like an adult and he listened with great interest to my experience and asked me questions about my teaching.
Just look out the window at those beautiful clouds and the blue sky, I said, pointing at some nice wispy white ones. Enjoy what you see right now instead of worrying about what's ahead. And when you're at VBS just enjoy the art project you're doing or the song you're singing right then, in that moment and don't worry about what's going to come next.
It was like Will saw the light. He was suddenly sore-throat free and ready to take on the day.
And he had a good one. "You know why I liked Vacation Bible School?" he asked me that evening. "Because I remembered what you said about not thinking ahead and I didn't think ahead. Plus I had my lucky pennies and that made me feel better."
We are talking about our new philosophy, and at least for now Will "can't wait" for kindergarten.