Every once in a while, it pays to be patient with kids’ silly behavior because it can play right into your hands. Last night was one of those occasions.
As I was teaching about the anointing with chrism at Confirmation, I focused for a while on the fact that the chrism has a fragrance (sometimes referred to as “perfume for the soul”) which symbolizes how the Holy Spirit helps us to give off the “aroma of Christ” (2Cor 2:15) by the way we live.
To stress this point, I brought in some of those pefume/cologne ads that we find in magazines – the ones that you peel open in order to sample the fragrance. I brought in enough samples for each of the kids to try and of course it brought out their silly sides. They started rubbing the samples all over themselves, the girls rubbing them on their necks, the boys rubbing them on their necks, chests, and underarms! I let this play out for a minute or so and then collected the samples asking them why they rubbed the samples all over themselves. The quick reply? “To smell good!”
I said, “Exactly! We use colognes and perfumes to “smell good” so as to attract others and to make an impression on them.” I mentioned that last year, Americans spent over 5 billion dollars on fragrances, all in the hopes of making an impression on others. I explained that we can do all kinds of things to make an impression on others: fixing our hair, wearing certain clothes, wearing makeup, and so on. However, the most powerful way that we make an impression on others is by how we act.
I talked about how each of them was making an impression on me at that moment. Interesting how self-conscious they all became. I was able to tell them that as I’ve come to know them over these past few weeks of Confirmation intensives, that I can honestly say they’ve made a good impression on me for the most part. I then introduced the Fruits of the Holy Spirit and said that these are the qualities that people exude when they are filled with the Holy Spirit and I told them that this is the impression that we want them to leave on others so that people will know that they are followers of Christ.
It’s funny how, as a catechist, you can walk that fine line between losing control of kids’ behavior and using that very behavior to your advantage!
When was a time that you used your students’ silliness to your own advantage?
This may be as close as I get: my kids are predictably queasy about about things that have to with physical affection and the things that babies produce (poop, pee & vomit). I can always count on their “eeeewww, gross” mewling to give me an opening when I need it.