Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's back!

It's that time of year again.

The long hot days of summer are shortening, the school zones are once again slowing morning commutes down, and AWANA is back in session.

This is my second year as an AWANA leader (well, at this church at least). I joined last year, partially for something to do but mostly because it would guarantee my neighbor kids a spot in the high-demand program.

Since AWANA was as much a staple of my childhood as cartoons are to most kids (I say "most kids" because we didn't really watch cartoons... why watch TV when you have an awesome stay-at-home mom who will take you to the zoo instead?), I wanted it to continue to be a part of Aubree and Ashlyn's life, if only for a few more years. Plus, it gave their parents a few hours to themselves, since they could just drop the girls off and I would bring them home a few hours later. Win-win-win, I say.

This year, I had the benefit of walking into the AWANA room and actually knowing what I was doing not being completely clueless, with the added benefit of having really good friends there I was looking forward to serving with.

I was standing around visiting with Sarah before club started, when a new 3rd grader arrived, unsure of what to do. I introduced myself, told her a little about what to expect, and started discussing AWANA with her. In the middle of one of my sentences, she randomly put her little arms around my waist and hugged me for seemingly no reason at all.

In a sad world where we're told to try not to even accept hugs if we can help it (for security reasons), it's nice to still see the innocence of a kid who's just glad to have found someone who will help her figure out where she's supposed to sit in this new group.

And as much as I tried to follow the "no-hugs" rule, I found it difficult since there were so many little girls who were so eager to tackle me with their affection.

As for my small group, well, I hit the jackpot.

There's the "kid with the attitude" that I had last year, who, judging by tonight's behavior, seems to have grown up considerably since last school year, and I couldn't be more thrilled. Knock on wood.

There's the little girl I judged harshly in my mind based on her inital rambunctiousness, who later surprised me by spouting off her verses word-perfect and effortlessly, as if they were written on the wall behind me.

Then there's the quiet, brilliant, and kind daughter of one of my co-workers, and the little girl who just moved here who is so ridiculously sweet I can hardly contain my excitement. I can already tell I'll be looking forward to seeing those two every week.

And of course there's Aubree, who I have known since she was kicking my 13-year-old hand from the inside of her mom's pregnant stomach. She's the one who reads huge chapter books and totally gets my sarcasm. The one who is so mature that at this point, she's closer to a friend than just the kid I used to babysit.

Time after time, these kids amaze me with their developing personalities and senses of humor. I love seeing the lesson click for them during council time, and I love how excited they get during game time when their team wins first place. I love the little notes they give me and the little jokes they tell me. I love showing up every week and recieving the hugs I'm not really supposed to accept. I love hearing their little voices recite the word of God.

It's going to be a good year.


Jessica said...

Wow, AWANA sounds like an awesome group to be a part of! What a great way to spend some of your time; sounds like some pretty special kids you are investing in :)

julialadewski said...

well, i'm glad you're back "online". i wondered where you went!!    i was in AWANA as a kid too!!  have fun with that.  sounds like an amazing experience.

Mandy said...

Yeah, I like 'em! :)