As Mormons we are theologically committed to experiential, bodily knowledge. And we all know there are some things you never really understand until you’re actually in the trenches, dealing with a situation as it unfolds on the ground. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned in the several times I’ve served as a nursery worker.
(1) Nursery is not day care. Please don’t drop off your precocious sixteen-month-old (or worse, your misbehaving five-year-old!) because you’re–very understandably–tired of chasing her around the halls and you just know she’ll be fine, she won’t cry when you leave, and she’ll love the toys. Nursery is, albeit at the most rudimentary level, a church class, and we have our own very basic routines (activity-lesson-music-snack-play-story-bubbles). You wouldn’t crash the nine-year-olds’ class or the priests’ quorum with a random person who doesn’t fit the age requirements. Please don’t do that to us. For one thing, children too young for nursery often can’t hold cups without help and are likely to get run over by energetic three-year-olds. For another, every child you add to the nursery worsens the child-adult ratio to the detriment of the class’s legitimate members.
(2) Nursery isn’t a foyer. I fully appreciate the need to escape Sunday school, Relief Society, or Elders’ Quorum at times–but please don’t hang out in nursery, particularly if you make no move to pitch in but simply stand in the corner and talk with other parents. It’s discomfiting and distracting–and again, I assume you wouldn’t dream of hanging out in the Beehive class and standing in the corner visiting.
(3) Please give your child a chance to adjust to your absence. Many–most!–children do cry for a while the first time they’re left, and many children take a few weeks to assimilate the whole nursery concept. But if you’re too anxious and you repeatedly reappear just as your child is starting to adjust, you make the transition harder. Please be willing to let your child cry a little.
(4) Please remember that like all other church workers, we’re essentially volunteers who didn’t even volunteer, and we’re doing the best we can. Certainly legitimate issues and problems come up that need to be addressed, and if you have real concerns about your child’s welfare, we absolutely want to know. But please try not to complain too much about relatively small concerns–e.g., the snack is at the wrong time for your child’s precisely calibrated digestion, your child doesn’t like blue Playdough, the activities are insufficiently varied to stimulate your child’s intellectual development. If you really want to see nursery enriched and improved, by all means volunteer to come in and do your favorite activity with us. We can always use new ideas and fresh blood, and we would be thrilled to have your help.
Now for the fun part. What do you wish others realized about your calling, or about callings you’ve had in the past?