Two Sundays ago, I took my camera to Nursery intending to get an early start on our annual Christmas presents for parents (smiles come a bit easier when it’s still warm outside). As we played, sang songs and ate snacks with our adorable little toddlers, I turned to my teaching partner, Kathy, and said, “We’ve achieved perfection; one of us is about to be released.”
Kathy agreed. The little boys who’d cried and clung to their mother’s legs now happily joined in our games and play. At snack time, all our little people eagerly set out placemats and ran to their favorite chairs. They listened to the 2-minute lesson and sang with enthusiasm during to “Twinkle Twinkle” “Old McDonald” “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” and “I am a Dinosaur!” Maybe we got a little too rambunctious while running up and down the room during, “Five Little Ducks.” But I like to make passers-by jealous when they hear all the laugh emanating from the Nursery room.
For my friends of other faiths– Nursery entails caring for all the little people in the congregation for approx. an hour and forty-five minutes while their parents attend Sunday School/Relief Society/Priesthood/Primary etc. Little ones come into Nursery at age 18 months (though I wish it were earlier) and leave the January after their third birthday. December babies leave at barely three, while January babies stay in until they are nearly four (which is fabulous!).
Nursery holds a love/hate reputation. For a young mom caring for babies all day, every day, it can feel like drudgery, but for people like me (wait! I’m still a young mom!) who only wish they had babies at home, caring for little people at church is sheer delight.
Still, lots of people without the excuse of babies at home seem to regard our windowless room in the basement as somewhat boring. Let’s review why Nursery is the best calling in the church:
1. Snacks. Seriously, is everyone else OK with starving during church? ‘Cause I didn’t get any breakfast, did you? We prefer pretzels, cheese cubes, grapes, apples, goldfish crackers and if you throw in some cookies we won’t complain.
2. Comfort. We take off our shoes and sit on the floor. Sometimes when we are tired, we lie down and take a little nap.
and those faces watching the bubbles.
4. All the adorable hugs and smiles with no diaper changing. We just find mom and dad.
5. Toys. No one outgrows trains or tea parties.
6. Moms who stop in just to chat. The best, strongest friendships are formed while sitting on the floor discussing diaper rash.
7. Tiny piggy tails.
8. Toddler boys.
9. Two-minute lessons. In fact, I think Nursery would be a great place for “testimony rehab.” We discuss kindness, sharing, “Jesus loves me,” animals are cool, God made rainbows to make us happy… the simplicity and yes, the ability to hide in the Nursery make it a perfect place when church seems overwhelming.
10. Crayons and Playdoh. The kids will usually share their coloring pages as long as you do exactly what they say. “Purple hair? Great.”
11. Teaching my kids to love and serve little people. Gabe and Mary know exactly the right time to stop in and help with snacks.
12. These adorable little people who wrap their arms around my neck and whisper, “thanks teacher.”
And of course, I was right. It was all too good to be true. Last Sunday, I was released and I’ll now be serving in the Relief Society (which I’m sure I’ll love just as much, especially if someone brings me a snack). Gabe and Mary cried when our bishop made the announcement. But I’m not too worried. Once people know you love Nursery they call you to substitute when someone is sick or goes out of town. And I love Nursery.