Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Teaching the teacher

The time has come to begin making preparations for this year's CCD class. Last year was my first year as a teacher, and I rather enjoyed it. My wife and I co-taught the 7th and 8th grade class, which at our parish consists of 8-12 students depending on who shows that weekend. I say I co-taught with my wife, which in reality boils down to, she sat next to me and tried her best not to appear frustrated as I ran through the lesson plan nearly every week. I'm blessed to be married to a beautiful woman who accepts that I'm seriously lacking in the ability to share my toys.

I'm working on it, but I do admit that I have a tendency to try and tackle every thing myself, and not share the load with those who have volunteered to take it. After all, if I want something done right, I have to do it myself don't I ? The problem is, I know I hurt her feelings sometimes by not trusting her enough to get the job done without my supervision. As if I know what I'm doing ! She did teach a few of the lesson plans, and the ones she did teach were well done.

This year is a different story for me. My wife has elected not to return as a teacher this year, as the demands of caring for our son would make it difficult for the both of us to be out of the house from 9am- noon every Sunday. Between breastfeeding, pumping, and entertaining a 5-month old with a finite attention span, I can't blame her.

As a result of the child abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in the US, our diocese requires that any activity involving minors must be supervised by 2 adults. For me, this means that I will be co-teaching with somebody new, and most likely not as excited about my overbearing persona as the Mrs. pretends to be.

Getting teachers to volunteer for religious ed is hard enough in a small parish. Getting teachers to volunteer to work with sulking, sullen, sleepy 12 and 13 year old kids at 9 am on Sunday is harder. Especially when that class is the Confirmation Class. The notion that you're expected to impart the most critical tenets of the Catholic faith on these kids, and then stand in front of the Bishop and the entire congregation and say that you certify them as ready and willing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation is somehow more daunting than volunteering to help the pre-K class learn how to recite the Hail Mary and glue macaroni noodles to construction paper. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit moves and inspires people much better than I do, and there are some volunteers for my class!

At the end of mass a few weeks ago, the deacon reminded folks that we were still in need of 4-5 more volunteers for CCD teachers. This was a particularly well timed reminder, as that weekend's reading had included Ezekiel 2:2-5, where the Lord calls Ezekiel and sets him to work. The priest centered his homily on how we are all called to do the Lord's work, and how we need to be open to doing the Lord's will, not our own. Well low and behold, there were a few folks actually listening, and we now have all the teachers spots filled for the upcoming year.

I will be co-teaching this year with a husband and wife couple. They seem pretty eager to help out, which is great. The dilemma in this situation for me, is once again my own selfishness and pride. I'm worried about how well I'll be able to actually sit back and let somebody else teach what I've come to think of as MY class. I also have to be better prepared this year with lesson plans, as I do have a habit of cranking one out late Saturday or even over my coffee on Sunday morning. That's not going to cut it if we're all to share in teaching these kids in what I feel is a very important stage for them.

It would appear, that my recent prayers have been met with a challenge. I've been praying that I would be more accepting of God's way before my own. All to often I look to do what I want, before I consider what God wants me to do in a situation. It will be tough for me to step back and let somebody else have some control. I've never been good at sitting quietly. This will be a chance for me to let God work in my life, if only I can stay out of His way !

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I've been wondering lately about the name Dad. When I hear the word, naturally the first thing that comes to my mind is my own father, whom I have a very close relationship with. My own son is only 5 months old, so he of course hasn't yet uttered anything remotely close to a word that I'm familiar with in the English language.

I'm curious as to whether that word, Dad, will always direct the image in my head to my father, or at what point does the title become mine to claim? Not that I don't recognize myself as the boy's father, I have no blockage there. I'm just wondering if I'll ever hear the word Dad in conversation with anybody other than my own children, and automatically assume "oh hey that's me!".

During last night's pre-bedtime ritual for my son Mikey, I was giving him his evening bath, as I do nearly every night. I once again engaged him in conversation, one sided as usual. He was quite content to sit in his little plastic tub that we sit on the combo dresser/changing station in his room, and play with his rubber duck while I babbled on about my day. I was discussing with him just how much my daily routine had changed since he's come along.

Pre-Mikey, I'd get home from work by 6, take my boots off and sit in my la-z-boy for a good half hour while the Mrs. and I decided what our supper plans were going to entail for that night. I'd do the cooking, as the title of head chef seems to have fallen in my favor in our relationship, while she'd sit at the kitchen counter bar and we'd continue to discuss our day, or anything else that happened to be the topic of the evening. By 7:30, we'd both by firmly planted in our spots in the living room with our supper plates, and we'd watch a movie or some shows we wanted to catch up on, until she went to bed around 10. I'm more of a night owl, so I'd fire up the Xbox 360 and loose myself in whatever game I was playing at the time until 11:30 or so, then turn in.

In my new life as a parent, I get home around 6, kiss the Mrs, spend a few minutes with Mikey, and then it's time to get back to work. There's supper to get made, bottles to warm, and endless stream of breast pumping equiptment to help keep washed. Supper usually ends up getting pulled together by 7:30, and 8 pm is the time we've decided on to start getting the little one ready for bed. So, quickly clean up the kitchen, load the dishwasher, and downstairs to get the tub filled up, find a sleeper outfit, a dry towel, and into the tub he goes, after we both take a few seconds to comment on how cute his little dimpled butt is. Bathtime usually happens around 8:30 no matter what we try to start it earlier. After I get him washed, lotioned, diapered, and dressed in his sleeper, I hand him back to the Mrs, who has been washing pumping gear, starting another load of laundry, and picking up the daily explosion. While she is putting him down to sleep with his last nursing of the night, I'm emptying his tub, and filling up the humidifier we keep in his room.

So by now it's 9 or later, and I'm finally able to sit down in my chair, for the first time since I've come home. The first couple of months, I'd complain about all of this extra work to do, but now I've accepted it as part of being normal. Still I wonder what lies in store for the wife and I when we eventually have more children. This is ONE kid, and I'm already wondering if the washing machine is up to the task.

As I'm finishing up explaining all this to my son during his bath, I know he hears my voice, although he's entirely focused on eating the rubber duckie, and the washrag, and whatever else he can reach. He drops the duck, looks up at me with his big blue eyes, and gives me the best smile I've seen out of him in days. All of a sudden, I know that the ache in my knees and back doesn't matter, because the extra work is all for him and he loves me unconditionally. I think that maybe I'm getting close to being able to call myself by that vaunted title of "Dad".

And then, while still smiling at me, and as if on purpose, he peed on me.

Where to start?

I'm relatively new to the blog world. I knew what they were, but never really got into reading any until a few months ago. Now that I've been drawn into the stories of a few that I follow closely, I was somehow struck with the notion that I needed to start my own.

So, what I intend to do here still isn't perfectly clear to me. I'd like to have a place where I can share my experiences in returning home to the faith I was raised in, marriage, and raising our firstborn.

I'm 27 years old. I've been married to my best friend for 2 years, and we happily welcomed our first child, a son, into our lives 5 months ago. I work as a manager of a small retail shop. I'm a member of the local volunteer fire department. I teach the 7th/8th grade CCD class at our parish. I play the bass guitar in one of our church's choirs. How's that sound for average?