What started out to be a post about Noah the other day, turned into a tangent (albeit an important one, I think). It all started out with a brief description of our Sunday Morning Celebration Service. This is where I intended the entry to head:
...Upon arrival at church, either Ben or I always take the boys downstairs to their Sunday School class. Up until about 3 months ago (Noah's 3rd birthday), they were both in the infant/toddler class. During our service upstairs, the boys would play mostly...sometimes a story would be read, or they would colour or play with playdough. However, June 17th (Noah's 3rd birthday) marked a very important milestone for our little guy. He was a Big Boy. This meant he could now attend the Big Boy Class at church (3-5yrs).
Two weeks ago, our Children's Ministry structure changed and now the 0-4yr old children are back together. There is a little more structure: a story and deliberate colouring time for the older ones. Many of Noah's little friends returned to the younger class. Noah agreed the first week. This past week though, he really wanted to be back in the Big Boy Class. Now, understand that all but 1 of his friends are back with the younger children. Even those kids who will be 4 in only a couple of weeks are back with the younger kids.
Noah was firm about being in a class with the big kids. He didn't care who was there. He didn't care that not only would he be the youngest but by far the smallest, too. Nope. All that mattered was that he got to be with the kids who rotate through stations: story, craft, snack, game...
...So, after trying to convince him that the younger class was probably a better idea (and failing), after talking with our Children's Ministry Leader (who strongly encouraged him to go join the younger class), we walked hand-in-hand over to the name tag table, wrote his name on a little seahorse name tag and lined him up (alone) under the sign labeled, 4-5yr olds: Seahorses.
I let go of his hand, bent down, and asked him again if he wanted to go with Tait and all of his other friends, to which he confirmed "no Mama, I a big kid now". Then he opened his arms, gave me a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek and I left him standing there under his Seahorse sign, waiting for his Big Boy class to begin. I turned back and looked at this tiny blonde haired boy, standing under a colourful Seahorse, surrounded by kids aged 4 to 10 years old. He didn't look nervous. He didn't start to tear up. He just waited patiently for his Big Boy Class to begin.
Fast forward an hour:
After our service, I headed downstairs to get the boys. I half expected to find them both in the younger class but there was Noah, standing there at the bottom of the stairs, craft in hand, grin on his face. He was so proud of himself...and I of him! "We read a story about God today, Mama. And look I sprayed my own, too". (He presented me with his spray painted craft.)
Interestingly, I know that our Children's Ministry workers really try to keep the kids segregated in their own age groups. It makes it a little easier to ensure the older kids are engaged and taking in the lesson being taught. It ensures the lessons are age-appropriate. However, I'm not sure I think we can categorize our kids based solely on their age. I think generalizing that one 3 year old is just like the rest is naive, to be honest. This happens in our schools systems all the time too, and I sometimes wonder which kids would excel given the opportunity.
I thought about this quite a bit throughout the morning and the rest of the day. I was very proud of Noah for wanting to learn, wanting to be a big kid, wanting to do something that was likely intimidating.
Is it wrong that I didn't "make" him go to the younger class; That I "broke the rules" so-to-speak, by allowing a little one almost a year younger than his peers, stay? I felt a little guilty that maybe he would be little more immature than his cohort (though this has not been the case in the past); That I was maybe abusing the system a little bit by asking for my son to be the exception.
And then I thought about it some more. He came home that day talking about what he learned. Not "we played with tools" or "we did drawings" but rather, "We read a story about God".
He'll be with the big kids this week.