Vacation Bible School (VBS)
‘Tis the season for VBS, the nightmare of all mother of all hellish nightmares the American church has decided to invent!!!
If you want to skip my rant and go straight to the heart warming story of my daughter, skip to the middle.
Now mind you at one point in time VBS made a little sense. Moms, who stayed at home and had no job with income, who were ready to kill their kids because school was out and the kids were in their hair all the time, who were missing their mid morning teas with their girlfriends, decided to use the local social structure to create a way to manage their unruly children, get into their husbands wallets in the name of church, and pretend to educate the kids in a farce to say they were making sure the kids didn’t forget how to do school. Back then VBS started in the morning and went until supper and was formatted to resemble a “fun school” But today it has turned into a mass chaos of running home after work to attempt to get your kids to a church in time for their program, to have them scream and kick and bite and cry that they don’t want to be there, and as you walk through the church you are hit by one resounding theme, 1) God is corny with subtle hints of church is boring and irrelevant.
Seriously look at the VBS programs people are doing, the game shows on the Mexican channel on local broadcast are better funded and more current than what these people are doing. Seriously, to the people who produce these things, fire your designers and go hire the writers for MTV, find some people that want to be culturally relevant, and not church corny.
Now I’ve done enough of these things, yes I’m one of the guys who gets suckered into helping, that I’m not addressing any one particular VBS event, this is years of experience with VBS. But look at the kids, are you really engaging their minds with the story, told in monotone, by a parent who doesn’t want to be there, about how the song “Amazing Grace”, which by the way none of these kids have ever heard until 5 minutes ago and were bored to tears with the falsetto rendition you just put on, was written on a sinking ship, well right after the ship sank. I’m not saying the story doesn’t have its great points, and it can be done to engage the kids with great enthusiasm, but just how do you do that?
Of course I am helping out with VBS right now, but that isn’t even the reason my mind has been on VBS though. You see we made our kids go to a VBS program a few weeks ago at one of my friend’s church. They spent over $2000 on their VBS program and had worked on it for over 2 months before it happened. They spent over 100 hours in the church itself building props and making a stage, not to mention the igloo you had to walk through to get into the church. They trained all of the volunteers, and removed anyone with a bad attitude. It was quality, and we knew it would be, and it made our introverted daughter step out of her comfort zone, which is a good thing, and gave our extroverted son a chance to pretend he was one of the older kids. It also gave Heather and me some time to catch up with each other as I was finally recovering from my trip. Both of my kids loved going, and they had an absolute blast.
Now the kicker, and for me what made it all pure gravy, happened in the middle of the week. We picked up our kids and we were driving home and Kaitlyn piped up from the back seat asking what would happen if mommy died. Well this through us for a bit of a loop, but Heather replied that daddy would take care of her. She then wanted to know who would cook, daddy of course was the reply, but the real concern was what about when daddy was at work, who would cook lunch for them, and when she was at school who would watch Lucas. At this point I’m wondering what the heck they taught at VBS tonight, but I’m trying my best not to laugh at my very serious daughter.
There was a brief moment of silence and then it started, the crying sobs of a 6 year old girl. What now? Well, what if mommy and daddy are on a date, and you both die together, what then? What the heck did they teach tonight???????????
We tried to explain that we had a will, that we had allocated money and resources and family to take care of her, It was all written down, signed, notarized, and she would be taken care of, but this didn’t make a dent in the sobbing.
We tried to console her with the stupid parent stuff of “I’m super daddy right? I can’t die!!!” and crap like that. You know what I’m talking about, the stuff you make up, the BS you pull when you kid is having a meltdown and you have no idea why.
Finally we got her mildly calmed down and I asked her why she was asking these questions, and she shouted out “BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO BE ADOPTED BY SOMEONE IN ETHIOPIA!!!!!!!!!”
Remember she is 6, so her logic deduced that if American families adopt from Ethiopia, then Ethiopian families must adopt from America!
Unfortunately I’m a bad dad, and this outburst made me laugh, and thus get punched and told to shut up by Heather. She was quickly told by Lucas that shut up is and ugly word and we don’t hit in our family and she needs to say sorry to daddy. This made me laugh again, bad, and as I was driving, made me swerve into the wrong lane as well. Luckily there were no cars around, but the absurdity of it all was quite funny, but perhaps you had to be there.
We went through the process again, reaffirming that she would stay in America (until we decide to move to Africa but that’s a different story and she wants to go, as long as it’s with us) And we tried to find out, once again, what they talked about tonight that trigger the conversation. She told us they talked about Queen Esther and how her mommy and daddy died and she became queen, she then started to cry again, but it was one of those broken hearts cries. One of those from the guts, my heart is truly broken, I just lost my only friend cries.
We asked what was wrong and she told us she was so sad for her brother and sister, because their mommy and daddy died and they are going to be so sad to have to leave Ethiopia. She told us she was so sad because of the loss her brother and sister have had to endure and the pain they must feel because of it.
Wow, my 6 year old daughter got a concept we can’t get our adult friends to comprehend.
We affirmed this sadness, and consoled her, but let her cry it out. God knows my wife and I have had this same breakdown on several occasions when we become engulf in the loss our children have suffered. I have no idea what the point of tonight’s Bible story was, I’m sure it had nothing to do with this outcome, but it triggered a lot of reality into my daughter’s heart. And for that I am glad.
I may hate VBS as a concept, but I am grateful for the revelation it brought to my daughter.