If your church is anything like mine, we call in reinforcements when Palm Sunday rolls around. The call goes out to all able bodied adults: "ALL HANDS ON DECK! We are about to hand 400+ children palm branches. Only YOU can stop the blood shed!"
Now, with younger children finding parents to help is not a hard job. Before the age of 8, most parents are convinced that every child EXPECT theirs is crazy and can not be trusted with sharp objects. They will volunteer in a fool hardy attempt to protect their little one. The problem is, the older the children are, the longer their parents have been involved in the process of raising kids. The more they realize that ALL children are evil, including theirs, and they want nothing more than to be as far away from the fray as possible. Parents have dispensed of the "please don't... " and go straight for the "I can and will kill you!" attitude.
I suppose it was with this hart that our lovely Palm Sunday volunteers arrived in my room of 4th and 5th graders. I had already sat them down for a pep talk about waving the palm branches with energy. You see, at this age, its not really that they will try to kill each all with palm whips, its that they are just "too cool" to be seen waving a palm branch with an expression that might be mistaken for joy or even mild amusement. I talked about remembering the reason we are doing this. To celebrate Jesus. That I understand the exercise seems juvenile, but we have to remember that little kids and blue haired church ladies love this kind of thing. Do you want to be responsible for crushing the dreams of blue haired church ladies and small innocent children? So when you are out there waving your palm, think about the spirit and meaning of what you are doing. I want you to try and think about the kind of spirit that Jesus would want you to have while you are out there setting an example for the little kids. Remember, this is a celebration so act like you are having fun.
But my Palm Sunday volunteers were running late. They had missed this pep talk. They had missed seeing the boys agree that they would at least attempt to not look pissed off while they waved palm branches. Instead they volunteers saw 40 excited kids fighting for the best spot in line. They saw yammering and fart jokes being passed around. Eyeing the boxes of donuts I had stacked up in the corner, one volunteer took what she felt was preemptive action.
"I see that there are donuts waiting for you when you come back to the room. Just know that if you don't behave, if we have to report to Ms. Katy that you are acting too silly no one is going to get any donuts."
To which, one of my very witty 5th grade boys immediately replied:
"I don't think fear and intimidation is the kid of spirit Jesus would want us to have in our hearts while we celebrate him in church."
Never one to miss a teachable moment I immediately collapsed into laughter while the parents stood there speechless. I finally composed myself enough to say, "Garrison, you are awesome." And the class filed out the door. At least I know one kid was half way listening to what I said.