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AWANA go to AWANA (insert groan)

For several years now, we have been the neglectful apostate family at church who have refused to send our children to AWANA. Well, refused is perhaps a bit strong. We haven't REFUSED, exactly, but we have certainly neglected it.

For any of you who don't know, AWANA is a Bible club for kids, where they make crafts, play games, and learn Bible verses. As far as I can tell, it's kind of like extended Vacation Bible School - just not during a vacation. AWANA is an acronym for something, but don't ask me what.

Well, anyway, Emily was eligible to start attending AWANA four years ago when she was three. Every other parent sent their kids except for us, and it was pure selfishness that motivated us. I had a one year old and a husband in grad school, and frankly, I just didn't feel like schlepping my kids out at 6:30 to drive 15-20 minutes to church. Besides, bedtime at our house was 7:00, and I was very attached to that fact. Every day I could say to myself, "Just hold on until 7:00" and I could make it through.

To those of you who adapt easily to parenthood and can just go with the flow and would have bundled that one year old up to give your daughter the chance to be enriched with the Bible, I say: ....I wish I was you!! It certainly would make things easier. But I'm realizing that my hold on my emotional stability seems to be somewhat tenuous, and in the winter months I hole up in my house like a hibernating bear and am lucky to say "boo" to anyone outside my family for months at a time. I'm the first to admit that I'm not the most well-adjusted gal around.

So, the following year, Daniel was two and more portable - but Tim was still in grad school and I was still me. So we stayed home.

The NEXT year, Emily was in Kindergarten, and it was certainly time to start her going. Her peers had already been going for two years. But she was in full day kindergarten, and I didn't like keeping her out that late with her in school all day. By the time we'd get home and in bed it would be close to 9:00, which is just way too late. So we stayed home.

Well, this year, Daniel also became old enough to go to AWANA, and it occurred to us that this was a monumental opportunity. We could drop Emily and Daniel off at church and then go off and have a date EVERY WEEK and not need a babysitter! Conveniently, I forgot my concerns over how late the kids would be up and became suddenly okay with it all. So, this year - both our kids went every Wednesday night to AWANA, and they absolutely loved it, and we had parental bonding time.

Other parents in our situation stay and volunteer to help out with the program, and I always felt vaguely guilty about not doing the same, but honestly, you don't want me around your children at the end of a winter day. I'm barely suitable for grown-ups. We'd see Tim's parents there when we dropped the kids off, and they always wanted to talk to us. My poor in-laws. I think I managed to not actually growl, but I certainly wasn't the most pleasant person around. Picking the kids up was always better, as I had decompressed during nice adult conversation and dinner for an hour and was much more presentable. But I suspect that I'd scared everyone away by then. Sigh. Sometimes it gets tiring being me.

This is a good time to point out that, yes, my husband is incredibly understanding and patient and I am incredibly lucky to have married him. I can't imagine anyone else putting up with me and actually LIKING me during such times. I'm hoping this doesn't say anything about his mental capacity, but just shows a very gentle and generous spirit.

The year ended early because of conflicts with kids in sports, so the ending ceremony was back in April. (I'm a little behind, yeah, I know.) The kids had songs to sing and awards to get. I wasn't really fully aware of how much memorizing the verses each week really counted, or I would have stressed it more, because neither of my kids got through their books, and apparently there's supposed to be one book a year. So they just got participation awards. Oops. But they did memorize a good number of them, and I did go over it with them and they went every week except for the time we all had the stomach flu. That counts for something, right?

So, here are the pictures from said ending ceremony. And there are also some video clips of them singing which are pretty funny. Or at least there will be as soon as Tim shows me how to compress them into a reasonable size - which will hopefully be soon.

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