Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reinventing Myself

Today I became a two year old. I sat on the floor, played with puzzles, sang "popcorn popping" complete with big hand motions, giggled and cried, spilled my water, and wrapped up dollies in blankets and cradled them.

Yesterday evening, the primary president called to ask if I would be willing and able to substitute in nursery today. All because I foolishly signed my name on the primary substitute list in a misplaced fit of charity after a particularly guilt-inducing relief society lesson. I need to learn to resist that spirit of obedience.

So she called, and because I have compassion for Primary Presidents everywhere, I said yes. And then hung up the phone and I groaned. Because of all the classes I might agree to substitute, nursery is my least favorite.

I'll let you in on a little secret. Little kids are not my favorite. I liked my own kids well enough because the laws of nature dictated that it should be so. Other people's kids are harder for me as a general rule. One on one is not bad. But when there are a bunch of them crammed into a small room and none of them know me and half of them are scared of me and at least one is crying because his mommy left him, it's a very hard thing for me.

So today I when I entered the room, as expected, one little boy was already in tears, his arms firmly wrapped around his daddy's leg. Another little girl looked very distressed as her mommy said goodbye and left. I groaned inwardly. I didn't want to be there, and I really hate dealing with crying children who don't know me and refuse to be comforted. But I decided to try. What else could I do?

And it worked. I put on a bright happy face, got down on the floor and played with those two to distract them from their worries while the other nursery worker played with the other four kids. I had to work hard and be really silly to keep them entertained, but by the time the music leader came in to sing, we were friends. We sang about snowmen and popcorn and prophets, and then we had snacks and I spilled my water and the kids laughed and then helped me clean up the mess. They shared their snacks with me and we colored pictures and I took them to the potty and we played with toys and then put them away and played ring around the rosie until their parents came to pick them up.

A miracle occurred within me during those two hours. I started it feeling tired and selfish and out of sorts. By the end I felt happy and carefree and I had six new two-year old friends. I had genuinely had a great time and was a little sad that it was over.

So I was thinking: If I can fake it until I make it with 2 year olds, can I do that in other areas of my life? What is the difference between creating myself in the image I wish to be and being a big fat fake? Can I use this tool and still be real and genuine?

What do you all think?


  1. Your Mother was called to the nursery about 5 years ago. She dreaded it also, so I went in with her. We also had a good time, and there was one little girl (Jeff Watt's) that really loved Darlene. She would run up to her and hug her a year after she left nursery. So it is rewarding.

    I'm proud of you, Lisa.

  2. "Can I use this tool and still be real and genuine?"

    Absolutely. It's a way to exercise faith. Practicing being who we want to be will bring us towards truly becoming more like our goal.

    It's not insincere to be imperfect in our strivings. That's just what the adversary would have us believe so we give up before we try and practice and work.

    Think about our divine potential and who we each really are... that's what's genuine and real. Not our ruts, imperfections and struggles. Those make us human. I remind myself that being human is not my end goal. I'm striving for exhaltation.

  3. Maybe you are just discovering who you really are. I always felt the same as you about kids. I was terrified to start teaching dance because while I loved dance, I did NOT like children (Other than my own of coarse). I needed the money and it was the one skill I had so I just jumped in and to my astonishment I found I LOVE KIDS!!! I mean I LUUUUUUUV them. They are so much better than adults. I love my job. The weird thing is, I am not so good one on one with other kids. I like the big group and one hour is good. I don't know that I could be a grade school teacher where you are stuck there all day with the same kids but who knows, maybe it would be better than I think. Attitude is everything.

  4. My freshman year at BYU we had to read a book about faking it and apply it to our lives. I learned a lot on that project.

    Diane Medved always says most relationships can be fixed by faking it, til you feel it.

  5. I love Primary for the same reasons. I love the simple and genuine love you feel there.

    I completely agree with all of the comments made but want to send out a HUGE thank you for "hiccups'" comments. What a great perspective!!! Thank you! I needed that today. :)

  6. A couple of thoughts:

    When I think of "big fat fake" I think of a hypocrite - someone who's going through the motions for all the wrong reasons and is mostly concerned about image.

    But if you're genuinely wanting to be better, to do good... this is not a bad thing. After all, aren't we told that we receive the witness after the trial? Doesn't that imply that sometimes action comes before feeling?

    And then of course there is the gift of Grace. God takes our efforts, our desire to be better, and changes us. We provide the will, he provides the change.

  7. So, Di, are you saying that if I fake it for someone else's sake it's good, but if I fake it so people will think I'm someone I'm really not then it's bad?

    It's a fine line.

    I have known people who were always so happy and up and never let on that they are normal and so I feel like a loser. I tend to avoid people like that. I have wanted to try to be more "real" which I've found helps to put people at ease, but being too real all the time is a downer.

    I'm just trying to find the right balance. All the comments are helpful. I'd appreciate any other thoughts anyone might have.