Having angsted a little bit in my last post about some of the guilt and worry that goes along with raising your children in church, I want to write about one of the (IMHO) absolute and unadulterated good things that goes along with involving your children in a church community. This is the fact that, as a rule, churchgoing children get more opportunities than non-churchgoing children to develop that marvellous skill known as Getting Up In Front.
Unless a child has a fear of public speaking so morbid and intense that they simply cannot be dragged to the front of a group of people — or unless you attend a church which is absolutely opposed to the participation of small children, in which case I would have to ask you Why? — it’s almost certain that by the time your churchgoing child has reached the ripe old age of, say, nine or ten, he or she has had the chance to Get Up In Front in numerous Christmas pageants, Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day programs, and similar Sabbath School or Sunday School experiences. He or she has probably had the opportunity to recite a poem, read a Scripture verse, probably even sing or play an instrument in front of an audience of loving and indulgent people who are thrilled just to see the child standing up there. As a teacher I truly believe that children who get these opportunities (in addition to what they do at school) have an edge.
Obviously there are other, non-church organizations that will allow your child this kind of exposure, but you do have to go hunting for them. Whereas if you happen to be going to church anyway, opportunities of this kind just fall into your lap.
I was raised to believe in the virtue of Getting Up In Front; I literally cannot remember the first time I stood up and spoke in front of an audience because it was probably before my conscious memory kicked in. Our children have had the same opportunities, and for the most part (except for a brief burst of stage fright on Chris’s part when he was 4 or 5) they have lapped it right up.
Getting Up In Front was a major feature of the fundraising night we just had for our kids’ Adventurer Club at church this Saturday night. The evening consisted of desserts and entertainment for the grand sum of $5 entry fee. Sprinkled in between the grown-up entertainers were most of the Adventurer kids, who eagerly volunteered to show off their talents. Emma was one of three children who played little piano pieces, while Christopher played his fiddle. But what made me proudest of all was the fact that Christopher and his friend Kurtis volunteered to MC the event, and actually did a great job of it. They told little jokes each time they got up there, taking turns being each other’s straight man, and then announced the performers clearly and concisely — basically they won the hearts of the audience. It was great.
As was the whole event, its best feature being that it is now Over And Done With, so one of the things that’s been keeping me busy and hurried over the past couple of weeks is now finished. Another long-term project is getting wrapped up this weekend, and I’m looking forward to more relaxing days ahead.
Of course, when I’m not Getting Up Front, I like being in the audience …
I’ve attended three public performances in the last five days, which is a lot more than I usually get out. You know (if you’ve ever ordered books from amazon.com) how Amazon tracks what books you buy and uses them to make suggestions for books you might like? They figure they can establish patterns and tell what you’re interested in by seeing what you’ve already bought.
Thank goodness nobody’s trying to do that by tracking the performances I’ve attended recently. I can’t imagine what conclusions they would draw.
On Thursday night, I went to a thoroughly enjoyable performance of The Vagina Monologues along with a group of women friends (including Tina, who wrote such a good and thorough review on her blog that I won’t even attempt one here).
On Saturday night, I went to the aforementioned fundraiser, which was as close to an old-fashioned church social/talent night as you will find anywhere in the 21st century — cute little kids and nice talented church people up in front playing their guitars and singing for a good cause.
On Sunday afternoon, I went with Jason, the kids, and some friends to the final regular season game of the St. John’s Fog Devils. I would not call myself a big sports fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I can enjoy watching the occasional hockey game, since I at least understand the rules. Our seats were good, and I do like the lively atmosphere of a hockey game — although “lively” would be an understandment for the high-pitched enthusiasm of the three teenage girls sitting behind us.
So, what conclusions should the invisible spies draw from my tastes in public entertainment? I like frank and honest feminist discussion of the female body; I like local talent; I like hockey? Basically, I just like to get out and see stuff happening; I find it very hard to think of a live event I wouldn’t go to, although there are some I wouldn’t pay for — but I’d go to a monster truck rally or a Chinese opera (once, each) if someone bought me a ticket and I had nothing better to do. You couldn’t pay me enough to watch strippers (either gender) or “professional” wrestlers, but other than that, I don’t have a lot of boundaries in this area. When other people are Getting Up Front, I’m a good audience. I love the energy of almost any live performance.
I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in St. John’s who was at all three of these events this weekend. One friend was at the Monologues and also at the fundraiser with me; some of the friends who came with us to the hockey game had been at the fundraiser the night before, but I doubt anyone else hit all three of these diverse events. I wonder if there were any other crossovers between The Vagina Monologues and the crowd at the hockey game? Possibly … one thing I can say for sure is that during the part of the VM where you have to yell a certain word for the female organ out LOUDLY with the whole audience, those girls behind me at the hockey game would have had a lot to offer. They apparently have no problem Getting Up In Front … maybe they were taken to church as children.