Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Sunday

The girls were so excited to check out their curls in the morning. They looked beautiful.

Behind them on the wall is a countdown to Easter from The Friend that we did this week during family scripture study. It was fun to read about the Savior from the scriptures and then have the children choose the picture that went along with the scripture. Even Benjamin took a turn—his was Luke 22:19–20 and he was able to find the right picture to put up on the chart (the one with Jesus at the Last Supper). The girls took turns with the rest of the pictures. Benjamin wasn't too upset that he only got one turn. 

Church went as well as can be expected when you have a calling in primary. The children sang I Stand All Amazed during sacrament meeting, which isn't classified as an Easter song, per se, but is beautiful nonetheless (and all about the atonement so very fitting). In an interesting turn of fate, the ward choir sang a song from the Primary Children's Songbook: 'He Sent His Son.' As a congregation we only sang one official Easter hymn and we certainly could have done better in that regard. I mean, we only sing them once a's not like we're sick of them. 

During one of the talks the speaker said she was talking with her four-year-old granddaughter. She asked her what Easter was about.

"The Easter Bunny!" her granddaughter replied.

"Yes," she prompted. "But who else?"

"Jesus!" her granddaughter responded.

"Yes! And which one of them is real?" she asked.

"Both of them!" her granddaughter said happily. 

She said that was a fine understanding for a four-year-old. A friend came up to me in the hall and laughed about this other sister practically announcing over the pulpit that the Easter Bunny isn't real. She brought it up because I wrote on Facebook about how Rachel has been questioning the veracity of holiday stories lately. 

We neither encourage or discourage belief in Santa or the Easter Bunny or anything like that. We play along with the ruse, of course, because believing in magic is fun—we hang our stockings, put our teeth in fairy houses, and hope the Easter Bunny will bring us something great—but we don't put much effort into things—there's no Elf on the Shelf at our house, no fairy dust, and the Easter Bunny comes while we're at church leaving presents the children saw me put into the cart at the store.

I figure they'll believe as long as they want to believe. This year marked the year that Rachel stopped believing, for the most part. 

She, uh, might have read the post I wrote about the Christmas Swing Set. Oops. 

She's not quite sure about fairies but still wants to believe in them, so does. And I might occasionally leave the children notes from various fairies in the fairy hotel they built. But only rarely. And only Miriam believes they're from actual fairies.

And the bunny, well...I thought Rachel might still believe in the bunny but when we were at the store with Grandma on Friday she ran up to a display of chocolate bunnies and said, "Mom, will you please get some of these to put in our Easter baskets?"

It was probably a good thing she did that because at that point I had neglected to get any candy for their baskets at all.

"Oh, I'm going to put it in your basket, am I?"

"Well, I think so," she said. "Like, you are the Easter Bunny, right? I already know about Santa."

"Fair point," I said.

That answer wasn't direct enough for her and so she kept pestering me for an answer. She knows she's supposed to keep the magic alive for her siblings but she just couldn't leave it alone.

On Saturday night I told the kids we needed to clean up because "the Easter Bunny doesn't like to visit messy houses."

"Oh, what a surprise," Rachel said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Just like Mom. Mom doesn't like messy houses. The Easter Bunny doesn't like messy houses. Let's see...what could that mean?"

Miriam didn't catch the hint. She thought it probably meant we had better clean up the house so that (a) Mom wouldn't get mad and (b) so the Easter Bunny would come. 

Oddly enough Rachel was the most excited one to get her basket.

And when she found some of the robin egg candy (in one of the sixty eggs Andrew and I hurriedly hid before dashing out the door to church) she said, "Oh, robin eggs. How very interesting. I see a package of robin eggs on the counter. There are robin eggs in this egg. Hmmm...very interesting."

"Yes, yes, Rachel. You figured it out, bravo. Now please let your sister keep having fun."

"Oh, alright," she huffed before dashing off to collect more eggs.

Anyway, church. I was talking about church. Primary was really relatively uneventful—we had a lesson about Easter for Junior Primary and were in the middle of a jeopardy game about the last week of Christ's life in Senior Primary when I got tapped on the shoulder. I followed the tapper into the hallway where she told me in a frantic whisper that a child was missing!

"She ran out of the classroom to follow the boys to the bathroom and when I caught up to the kids they were all gone. I figured she must have gone into the bathroom with the boys but when the boys came out they said she wasn't with them. I can't find her anywhere!"

Did I mention how many people we have roaming the halls of our building? People coming and going all the time. It's chaos!

Did I mention this was a four-year-old girl (we'll call her Sylvie)? Surrounded by a sea of legs. I remember getting so lost in church buildings when I was that age. Everyone looks about the same from the waist down. It's terrifying.

We quickly rounded up a party of adults and made an action plan—two of us would circle around the church (in opposite directions) inside, two of us would do the same outside. We checked every classroom. We checked both bathrooms. We checked the chapel, the parking lot, the nurseries. We went back and checked everywhere again: the mother's lounge, the sacrament preparation room, the table storage room. Again we searched the entire building: the doorways, the place between the room dividers and the walls, the carts for the hymnals.

Sylvie was no where to be found. It had been nearly twenty minutes. We were panicking.

Originally we had decided not to get her parents. After all, her mom was busy teaching Miriam's class (another class of four-year-olds; they're split in two classes because there are so many of them) and we figured we'd find her soon. But after this she was missing for so long without any sign of her whereabouts we decided it was time to alert her parents.

They joined in our search. We each made another lap inside the building, outside the building. Nothing.

We split up again. I went into one of the overflow rooms of the cultural hall. It was surprisingly quiet (the Spanish Branch had already left, so had D4, and Mebane had yet to arrive). I looked under all the chairs. I looked in the alcove for the curtain. I called her name. And then I said a prayer.

Technically I said another prayer. My other prayers were rushed ones, said in my mind as I raced through the hall, navigating my course through the sea of people I was sure this little girl was lost in. This prayer was a little different, a little more reverent, a little more vocal.

"Please help us find Sylvie," I pleaded. "She's lost and she's scared (and I'm scared) and she needs her mom. Please help us find her. Help me know where to look."

I closed my prayer and took a deep breath, swallowing the fears and tears that were threatening to break loose at any moment. I left that room and continued my circuit of the hallway, peering into classes, barging into quorums, poking around the library.

I came to an empty classroom. I peeked through the window. It was dark in there. Surely a little girl would not hide in a dark classroom, I thought. I left the window and moved on, but felt like I should go back for one last look.

I put my hand on the doorknob and got on tiptoes so I could see through the window. Nothing out of the ordinary—a round table, a row of chairs against the wall with...a ribbon straying out from under them? The light from the window was falling right on a ribbon on the floor.

I opened the door.

"Sylvie?" I called (but obviously I called her real name).

There was no response.

I took a step into the room.

"Sylvie?" I called again.


I bent down to pick up the ribbon and came nose to nose with "SYLVIE!" She was flat on her stomach, stretched out under the row of chairs (yet huddled against the wall—quite camouflaged), silently crying her eyes out. The bow of her dress had come undone and that was the ribbon I saw trailing out from under the chairs.

I pulled her out from under the chairs and into my lap. I gave her a great big hug.

"Sylvie!" I repeated. "Here you are! What are you doing here?"

"I got lost!" she sniffed and blubbered, "I didn't want to go into the boy's bathroom so I tried to find my classroom again but I couldn't and I got so lost!"

"Everyone's been so worried! We have to find them to tell them you're here!" I sniffed back because those tears was trying to keep under control? I lost control of them at this point.

We rushed into the hallway where we bumped into her primary teacher. Sylvie transferred from my embrace to her teacher's embrace.

"Sylvie! Where have you been?! We've been so worried! Do you not like my class so much that you decided to run away?"

"It was an accident!" Sylvie wailed.

"Oh, I know it was, sweetheart. I know it was," her teacher said, stroking Sylvie's hair.

Just then Sylvie's mom rounded the corner.

"Oh, you found her," she said calmly. She had only been aware of Sylvie's disappearance for a couple of minutes and hadn't had time to get worked up. "Good. Well, Sylvie do you want to go back to your class or do you want to come to mine? Church is almost over anyway."

"I want to come to your class," Sylvie answered, transferring to her mother's arms.

"Why did you run off?" her mom asked.

"I didn't mean to! I got lost!" Sylvie explained.

"Well, next time just stay where you are. Don't wander around. And certainly don't hide. Everyone was looking for you. They would have found you sooner if you hadn't hid!" her mother lectured as they wandered down the hall away from me.

I went to nursery to pick up Benjamin (after all, church was almost over) and gave him a great big hug. He gave me a hug right back, which is just what I needed. I took him to the bathroom so he could go potty (two hours is still a long time for him to go without a potty break so he really needed to go) and it was quiet in there, too, so I said a prayer of gratitude.

And that's just another day in primary. This is not the first missing child I've searched for at church. Shoot—I've even raced down a street in Cairo to catch a fleeing pupil. That's not bad, really—only three somewhat traumatic instances of missing children in ten years of primary leadership (with several minor stories of children being lost for just a few minutes). Kids get lost all the time.

I'm so glad we found Sylvie and that everything was just fine (because sometimes things are not fine). I'm sure there were plenty of things we could/should have done differently while we were looking for her. But the important thing is that we found her. Even if I forgot to go around and collect the snack boxes from all the little kids (one of our teacher's brought his and another teacher's box back to the primary room, which is when I remembered that I hadn't done that yet but the other boxes were in Sylvie's class and Sylvie's mom's class and they knew why I forgot to get them).

My heart was still racing a little when we got in the van to go home but I had calmed down enough to be ready for the kids to go wild with excitement when we got home.

"WHAT?!" Miriam shrieked when we opened the door. "An Easter Egg hunt in our house!?"

"Do we have to search for our baskets?" Rachel asked. "Callin said his Easter Bunny hid his basket in the shower and he had to look all over the house for it? So, do we have to look?"

"What do you think?" I asked, pointing to the couch where all the baskets were sitting in plain sight.

"Oh. No. They're right there. Which one is mine? Please say it's the one with all the blue stuff, not the one with all the pink stuff."

"What do you think?" I asked.

"Yay! The blue one's mine! But this isn't as much because I didn't have to look for it."

"I happen to know the Easter Bunny hid sixty Easter Eggs to search for."

"Oh, yay!" Rachel said. She was certainly the most enthusiastic egg hunter.

Miriam was too busy trying to figure out what in the world was in her basket to bother hunting eggs (though she did eventually hunt eggs after we told Rachel to leave a couple for her to find).

The kids each got a chocolate bunny, some sidewalk chalk (with holders!), and a garden tool (which Benjamin found to be excellent tools for hitting Mommy with, much to my annoyance). The girls also got skip-its (which I'm sure I've had way more fun with than they have since they haven't figured out how to use them quite yet and I've just been reliving my glory days—child of the eighties, man) and Benjamin got a toy fire truck. He immediately fell in love with his "bus."

I think he also hunted a grand total of two eggs.

We put out two bowls to sort the contents of the eggs into—one for robin eggs, one for jelly beans—the girls obediently emptied their eggs into the appropriate receptacle and then would run off to find more eggs. Benjamin, however, would find and egg, sit down to open the egg, and eat the candies one by one before he could be bothered to find another egg.

The entire hunt was over in mere minutes. Apparently our Easter Bunny isn't very clever at hiding things (or perhaps the Easter Bunny was just in a bit of a rush that morning, trying to get out the door to church).

I'll write about our Smackdown in another post (because clearly this one is long enough!) but I will write about our Easter Feast here. Andrew insisted that we do a fancy meal since it's a special holiday, so we made a ham, potatoes au gratin, pistachio pudding fruit salad, Rhode's rolls, and peas...and pop.

Andrew dished out huge slices of ham to everyone (including Benjamin, who is a huge fan) and Miriam (who is also apparently a ham fan) was impatient for someone to help her cut it into manageable pieces.

"I'm going to have to eat like a caveman!" she announced and did this:

So, all in all it was a lovely Sunday with all kinds of feelings: reverence, gratitude, love, laughter, boredom, panic, faith, relief, joy, frustration. The whole shebang. #BecauseOfHim

1 comment:

  1. What a great post...and I'm so glad you found Sylvie.

    I love cave-woman Miriam's picture. :)