Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inapprorpriateness is Genetic

In true therapist fashion I'll cut through the chase and just say it:  I blame my mom.

I entered life without a hope in the world of being anything other than a flippant smart ass that oozes inappropriateness, especially in church. Between the nurture and nature of my parental role model I was doomed from the start.

Exhibit 1:  The smile on my mom' face while my sister engages in public nudity and I sit there with my legs spread for all the world to see on a Pioneer Day float.
Exhibit 2:  The day in Relief Society when the teacher went around the room asking everyone about the one quality they'd most like to possess.  Patience?  Love?  Humility?  Nope, not for my mom.  Her true heart's desire?  To look good wet....which is a pretty valid desire.  I mean, we all want to look like this...
But the reality is we all look like this...
In her defense it was probably the most honest answer spoken in the room that day.

I also blame my mom for setting the bar so high in the "uber cool Sunday School (SS) teacher department".

Exhibit 3:  In order to raise the church attendance stats for the 16-18 year-old demo at church my mom would pack the car way past its legal limits with teenagers and head to the nearest town for 32 ounces of pure Maverick Mug bliss (the 1987 Idaho version of the Big Gulp) every Sunday.  To justify her mass encouragement of the Sabbath breaking she would sneak in a little spiritual tid-bit or two over the course of the 16 mile drive.  Three weeks into being their SS teacher attendance was at an all time high, so high they had to add a second driver...there were plenty of other bored adults willing to skip their own SS class to "help out with he youth".   The woman was brilliant.

She was also the local teen whisperer.

One of her SS kids was having a bad day?  She'd dress in black, sneak everyone out at night and go toilet paper the bishop's house.

Birthday?  Party at the Hanson House.

Questionable film?  She'd find a way to turn it into a generally twisted, yet effective modern day parable. 

She was popular.  For obvious reasons.

So, when I was called* to be the SS teacher for the 16-18 year-old class at church I knew I had a legacy to pass on.

Teenagers can be a tough crowd.  So I went in with a game plan:

1.  Treats every week
2.  A laid back atmosphere
3.  Blatant honesty
4.  The rule that all scriptures must be read in a dramatic voice, and if you feel so inclined start each verse off with, "Behold", "It came to pass" or "Oh ye wicked".

Things have been going pretty well for the last few months.  No allergic reactions or serious complaints about the weekly baked goods.  We have a lot of fun, and the kids have almost perfected their dramatic scripture voices.  Of course between my ADHD, incessant apathy, unprepared lessons and inherent inappropriateness, things tend get a bit sketchy every now and then.  But Sunday, oh Sunday, I took things to a new low.

The kids know I'm easily distracted, and they use it to their advantage.  Or, I let them use it to their advantage, because truth be known, I don't exactly want to be there on Sundays and I have zero desire to force feed them ideals I struggle with myself.  So we just kind of flow through the lesson and let it go wherever it goes.

This last Sunday went something like this:  after 20 minutes of me telling the class why you shouldn't go to underage drinking parties when you're in your 30's (because you just look foolish) we dove right into the lesson.

"Ok, ya'll.  Who wants to recap last week's episode of Sunday School?"

Ryan 2.0, "Episode?"

"Yeah, episode.  What did we discuss last week?"

"Ammon converting all of the king's sheep" said Nathan (who had the most distracting hair).

"Yep, yep, we talked about Ammon...but he did not convert any sheep.  Anyone else?"

Blank stares

"Ok, so there was Ammon, and all of the guys with him were super scared and crying becuase the bad dudes had scattered the king sheep.  They were scared the king was going to kill them but Ammon was like, "aint' no thang" and he went out to...."

Ryan 2.0 said through a giggle, "uh, what did Ammon say?"

I could tell by the look on his face that he was having a hard time grasping the idea that Ammon, a strong scriptural character ever used the words "ain't" and "thang".  So I looked him squarley in the eyes and enunciated, "AmmOn was like,  'Ain'T. No. Thaaaaannng'."

We finished the previous week's synopsis and dove right on in to the current lesson.  I asked McCall, who had been lying on the floor under a pink fuzzy blanket, to read a few scriptures in the BOM*. The scriptures were about a group of people who had made a covenant that they would rather die than sin.

This is when I started talking with zero thinking.

"Can you believe these people?  I mean, I'd never choose death over sinning.  I love sinning waaaaayyyy to much."

Eyes were popping out of those sweet adolescent faces.  And they just stared at me.

"Did you just say you loved sinning"  Ryan 2.0 asked.

I attempted to backpedal and said something about enjoying road rage, when the reality I was thinking of enjoying other things that I couldn't say out loud to a group of teenagers (or write in this highly spiritual blog).

They didn't buy it.

"So you like sinning?"  someone else asked.

"Yes, yes I do.  And don't go pretending you don't".  When you can't dig yourself out of a hole you might as well just pull everyone down in it with you.

The room filled with silence

"Ok, next scripture, who wants to read".  Someone volunteered and in a matter of minute I found myself going off on reasons why I was not born in the 1800s and never asked to drag a handcart to Salt Lake City.

"What do you mean?" someone asked.

"Well, the reality is they probably would have burned me at the stake for being a witch so chances are I would never had even made it to the handcart shop, let alone out on the trail.  But if I had made it on the trail I would have been SUPER negative and complained the ENTIRE time...but I would have been hilarious."

"You would have been a handcart comedian?" Gabby asked. 

How does one even reply to that?  "Yes, yes I would have been a handcart comedian."

"I would have walked with you" said Gabby.

"They would have make you put a red A on your chest and everyone would have shunned you if you had."

Blank stares (I guess you can't throw out basic literary references in some crowds).

"Anyway yes, I love to sin.  I am also a complainer and I would not have gotten along with Brigham Young.  Any other questions?"

No?  Fabulous.

I then just gave up on the lesson and told them all I could psychoanalyze them based on how they were eating their oreos (I was too lazy to bake that day).  The largest skeptic in the room (2.0) took a cookie and shoved the whole thing in his mouth.  With chocolatey crumbs tumbling from the corner of his mouth he said, "Dthat's how I heat a hOreo."  I then looked at the class and while pointing to 2.0 said, "He's rather direct but highly uncomfortable showing emotions to others".  2.0's eyes grew big and as he stood up he said, "THAT'S CREEPY".

Yes, yes it is...but most things we learn in church are.


Anonymous said...

You're the perfect SS teacher! I'd be proud to have you teach my 16 year old at least we would have something fun & interesting to talk about at dinner.


Anonymous said...

P.S. laughed my ass of at the float picture.


Jennifer Babbitt said...

Hahahahahahaha. That made me laugh so hard.

1st off the pic is classic and I have a few of those. (although I was a Lutheran) it all applies.
2nd - Look good wet. Your mom is amazing. I want to be friends with her real real bad.
3rd - I love the ss convo. I wet my pants at the "dramatic scripture voice"
4th - you totally would have been a hardcart comedian.

2.0 and you = lots o laughs