Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Thank Heaven For Little Girls

I enjoy the music from the show Gigi; Thank Heaven, for little girls, Ah, yes, I remember it well and others. I had written about the Tip Jar earlier (linked via title bar) and I started to remember many other Primary related moments that I didn’t want to forget.

I joined the Church as an adult and so I missed out on going to Primary, at least as a child. They must have noticed how easily I fit in, being of a mindset somewhere between nine and eleven. My very first calling came a week or so after I was baptized. Bishop Nelson sat on his side of the desk and asked me a few leading questions.

“So, Brother Stern, how do you get along with twelve and thirteen year old boys?” I really had no answer, at least I had to think for a moment. Why would he ask unless he had something in mind?

“I don’t know what you may have heard, Sir; but they can’t prove a thing ‘til they find the body.” I smiled, having come up with a good line. The Bishop, I later found, was new to his calling; thought over what had been given and grinned back.

“You’re going to fit right in.” I was being called to be the Deacon’s Quorum Advisor and as the new assistant Scoutmaster. That really hasn’t got much to do with Primary other than these young people were just completing their stint in Primary.

Getting back on topic, I got to work in the Primary in a number of various assignments over the years; teaching the five and six year olds may have been the most challenging as it was my first time. I had 23 kids in that class, all very active and creative. The first day all the boys got together and exchanged names so I wouldn’t know who was who. It would have worked except I already knew some of their parents, the Bishop’s son, the Elders Quorum President’s son and a few others who were in on it.

I was a police officer at the time and had my pistol concealed under my suit where it wouldn’t be seen. Come to think of it, that may have helped with such a large group of kids. They did give me a door hanger that was shaped like a Stop Sign in case things got out of control I could hang it and hope a member of the Primary Presidency would see it. We had the classroom directly across from the Bishop’s office; when the seismic levels reached above 2.4 and the walls started to shake I could count on a visit.

There was one young man, his name will remain secret, who was more “active” than most. He was in on the name swap deal, not that it helped him since I knew his father. One afternoon during the middle of the lesson I was attempting to teach, all the while this energetic young man was bouncing off the walls. I decided that it would be in the best interests of everyone to have him sit next to me, a chance to put my arm around him to keep him in his chair, to corral him long enough to teach the lesson.

I had a pretty good grip on him as he struggled for freedom. All the sudden he stopped squirming, folded his arms and sat completely still; as if his father had entered the room and explained where the wood shed was.

“Is that a real pistol?” his quiet voice inquired as his hand gently pressed the side of my suit jacket where he’d felt a lump in the shape of a pistol. I nodded in the affirmative and gave him a weak smile as if to imply that I was only one step from taking it out if he didn’t behave.

I recall sitting in Share Time while my back was trying to go into spasms. I quietly excused myself so I could go out into the hall where I could press my back against the wall to relieve the muscles a little without disturbing the kids. I was standing there, my eyes closed as I forced myself to relax against the wall when the Primary President walked by from the other direction.

“Are you in trouble again?”, implying that I had been up to some sort of shenanigans; she knew my penchant for getting in as much trouble as the kids, the kids I was supposed to be setting the example for.

Some of my favorite times in Primary were the years teaching the eleven year old boys. During Share Time we sat on the back row directly behind the eleven year old girls. That’s an interesting age since the boys just want to play, talk about the latest computer games and act silly while the girls are learning how to dress up a little and have learned to flirt.

Several of them would wear butterfly ornamentation in their hair; butterfly hair clips, berets and things like that. I would tease them; mentioning that they had “bugs” in their hair. It got the desired reaction, indignant denials, “Those aren’t bugs, they’re butterflies!” This went on all summer and into the fall.

While shopping for Christmas gifts that year I ran across some Lady Bug hair pins at one of the discount stores. I bought all they had, enough for each little girl in Primary to get a Lady Bug that could be displayed in their hair; one for all the ladies in Primary too. They didn’t cost much; I just wanted to have the “tease” continue to its conclusion; an innocent token to remind them that it’s okay to have “bugs” as long as they’re Lady Bugs.

I can hear Maurice Chevalier’s voice in my mind as he sings:

Thank heaven for little girls

for little girls get bigger every day!
Thank heaven for little girls

they grow up in the most delightful way!
Those little eyes so helpless and appealing

one day will flash and send you crashin' thru the ceilin'
Thank heaven for little girls

thank heaven for them all,
no matter where no matter who
for without them, what would little boys do?
Thank heaven...

thank heaven...
Thank heaven for little girls!

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