Our parish participates in a community Vacation Bible School with 3 other churches: Lutheran, Moravian and Episcopal. They’ve been doing this for years. And for years (probably 15 years, give or take a couple) my kids have participated.
We’re done now. Little Brother, at 9, has pretty much aged out of VBS. He grudgingly decided to sign up this year because a few of his friends would be there. But he persevered through the whole week.
I can’t say enough about the hard work by all the volunteers (ranging from older tweens to senior citizens). The decorations were amazing, though that panda is pretty creepy. The four churches got together to donate materials for crafts and food for snacks. And the music was pretty fun. I didn’t receive any reports about snacks that represented the plague of boils or leprosy, which is an improvement from previous years, though there were complaints the day the snack contained copious amounts of Cheese in a Can.
Yesterday Middle Sister and I attended the “finale show” of VBS. As usual, it was Hot and Crowded, and you have to sit in certain places in the Very Tiny Church or the VBS police will make you move (though the seats are not marked; one year I had to try 3 different locations before I sat somewhere acceptable). The VBS kids did a good job of singing the songs and waiting patiently during a few Technical Difficulties.
The audience, however, was another matter. The little boy in the pew directly in front of us spent the entire hour kicking, punching, smacking and pushing his mother/grandmother (I’m not sure which). This child was no more than 3 1/2 (and he was a little, wiry guy), and the grown woman with him was actually cringing as he beat on her. Middle Sister was horrified. The little boy directly behind me spent most of the hour kicking the back of my pew. 3 adults were with him. Nobody stopped him.
After the show, the kids trooped off to pick up the craft projects they made during the week, and Middle Sister and I waited in the parking lot with our neighbor. I mentioned the behavior of the little boy in front of us. She responded that her kids had come home every day reporting bad behavior on the part of the VBS participants, so she wasn’t surprised.
What is that child going to be like when he’s 8, 12, 16, 20 if before the age of 4 he is beating on his adult caregiver? In church, no less.