Beeline to the Bathroom
One day, in Children’s Church, one of my young helpers asked me if she could take a three-year-old girl to the bathroom. I told her it would be fine. But before the two girls made their way to the door, two other girls asked my helper if they could go too. The next thing I knew, my 10-year old helper headed to the door with three young girls including the one who had permission. As soon as I saw the girls getting up and heading to the door, I stopped the beeline to the bathroom because I wasn’t sure if the ten-year-old girl could handle three preschoolers by herself.
Since I was almost finished with the Bible story for the day, I finished it. Meanwhile, the first three-year-old began throwing a terrific temper tantrum because I didn’t let her go to the bathroom right away. I wanted to address the situation before class first. I told the little girl I would let her go in a minute. Then I explained that only one student was allowed to go to the bathroom at a time. After that child returned, I would let the next one go with the helper. Then I released the helper and the first girl to go to the restroom.
As the two girls were returning to class, the three-year-old girl’s parents showed up, and she began throwing her temper tantrum again. I explained what had transpired to the parents and they seemed to understand.
From this incident I learned that class procedures and rules need to be established even before the first class begins. This whole incident may have been avoided if I had established rules before class. From that moment on I explained the class rules and told my helpers to watch out for the beeline to the bathroom. I also established a regular bathroom run so that I knew the students had an opportunity to go, and would not be able to disrupt class with another beeline to the bathroom.
Born to Run
One day, while I was babysitting at a meeting of our local chapter of Women’s Aglow, a girl came up to me and asked if she could use the restroom which was only a few doors away from the nursery. Only minutes before, my only adult helper had left the room to run a short errand. I knew my helper would be back soon so I let the girl go to the bathroom and watched the hallway from the nursery door.
Suddenly one of the younger children began crying loudly so I left the doorway momentarily to check on the small child. I comforted the small child quickly and returned to the nursery door to watch for the girl to come out of the bathroom. After a few minutes, my helper returned but the little girl did not.
I quickly explained what had happened to my helper, and she agreed to watch the main group of children while I went searching for my missing child. As I headed down the hallway toward the bathroom, I heard a couple of women talking, and one of them asked me, “Why is there a little girl running around in the foyer?” Immediately I knew the first place to look for my escapee, so I went to bring her back to the nursery.
As soon as I reached the church foyer my suspicions were confirmed—it was the girl I had let go to the restroom earlier. As I approached her, the girl made a game out of running away from me. However her game ended abruptly when I cornered her in the foyer and gently grabbed her arm. Then I took her back to the nursery, and had a serious conversation with her about her behavior.
So nursery workers learn from my mistake and don’t trust preschoolers to return on their own if you let them go to the bathroom—even if it’s only a few doors down the hallway. If you do, you may have to go searching for them later because preschoolers are born to run.
Escape to Pastor Dave’s Sermon
In Children’s Church one day we had two young visitors come to the door with their parents: a boy about six years old, and his older sister whom I believe was about eight years old. The children didn’t want their parents to leave them but I encouraged them to at least give it a try. With encouragement from their parents the children came into the room and, against their true desire, sat down as I prepared to begin the lesson.
While I taught, there were two other adults and several teen helpers watching the children. I even told the adult helpers to keep an eye on the visitors. But as soon as my lesson was finished, I noticed the newcomers were gone. I don’t know how but even with all of our helpers, somehow this girl and her younger brother managed to sneak out of the room. Now, 30 years later, I still have no idea how the two children got away. Apparently the older girl knew how to find her way back to her parents.
When I realized the two children were gone, I asked my helpers if they saw where the duo went. One of my helpers knew the children and their parents so I sent her to make sure the children had returned to their parents who were sitting in the sanctuary. Thank God those children were seated in the sanctuary next to their parents, listening to Pastor Dave’s sermon. (By the way, his sermons were excellent.)
After church my husband told me that two children had entered the sanctuary by the side door, and walked across the stage area when Pastor Dave was preaching his sermon. Needless to say, I was embarrassed when I found out the children interrupted the morning message.
These two children will never know the fun they missed out on that day, but I know they received something good from Pastor Dave’s sermon. The only difference was that the children ended up having to sit still and be quiet for about 45 minutes, when they could have been learning God’s word and having fun doing activities with other children. It always amazes me how we—even as children–will fight so intensely against the things which are truly good for us.
So never assume that, just because you have several helpers watching the class, you won’t have children escape from the classroom. As teachers, we must be aware at all times; yet even then children will escape. I thank God He knows everything and He protects His own.
Fist-fight in the Men’s Room
One day, during a routine bathroom run in children’s church, we found out we had no men or teenage boys to take the smaller boys to the restroom. Consequently, I left the outer door open so I could watch the boys, and see as they came in and out of the stalls, washed their hands, and returned to the room. While I was waiting for the children to finish their business, suddenly I heard a big ruckus in the men’s room so I quickly entered to see what the commotion was.
Upon my arrival, one older boy was holding his stomach, and a young red-headed boy was so angry his face almost matched the color of his hair. The other boys were all trying to talk to me at once to explain what had happened. After listening to the witnesses one at a time, it turned out that the older boy (about 10) crowded in front of the younger red-haired boy (age 6) in the bathroom lineup. The younger lad got angry and punched the older boy in the stomach as hard as he could. The older boy even had tears in his eyes.
I sent all of the children (except the two boys) and my helpers back to class, and addressed the two with bad behavior. Later I decided that, for the safety of everyone, my church leadership should be notified.
Both of the boys’ parents were notified of the incident, and they were kept out of children’s church for the rest of that day. I believe those boys were informed that, if they repeated their behavior, they would not be allowed in children’s church.
During my time leading children’s church, I never had a repeat of the bad behavior. However, I heard that a young pastor’s wife had it happen in her class as well. So teachers, beware that you need to have men help in your classes, especially when it comes to taking young boys to the men’s room.
It seems to me the men who volunteer to help with children’s programs are a rare and needed commodity. This example is only one of many reasons why men should get involved in children’s ministry, and be Godly examples for the boys, including their own sons. The boys will listen better to a man who cares and tries to help them learn how to handle problems God’s way.