A Return to “Thoughts from the Drop-off Line”
I’d like to re-tell a story from four years ago: Just after pulling into the elementary school drop-off zone, I heard a screeeech followed by a loud, relatively quick crunch. I winced – as did the teacher who was directing traffic in the driveway. “Kids, we just missed being in that car accident.” My girls were incredulous. What was I talking about? They hadn’t heard anything. Why had I said that? As they stepped out onto the curb (and into visual range of the accident), Naomi turned back to me with great surprise, “You were right, Mom. There was a car accident right over there!” I smiled, stifled a laugh, and waved goodbye. As I drove off, I felt a wave of sadness, almost tearfulness well up in me.
Seeing was believing for my girls. They had heard the same sounds I did, but the sounds were meaningless to them. They had to see the buckled hood of the sedan up against the truck to know that a car accident had happened. For me it was different. That sickening “screech-crunch” elicited an immediate reaction from me – a little adrenaline, increased watchfulness, and then the old feelings of sadness from an experience long ago in my life.
Which got me thinking about sexuality education…. Adults, youth, and children all conceptualize sexuality so differently. What an adult sees as an obvious red flag may be a curiosity to a youth and a non-event for a child. It’s a challenge to communicate about sexuality across this divide.
While we don’t want to convey our emotional baggage to our children, there are still things that we want our kids to be aware of – perhaps without learning the hard way. And yet, often it is so difficult for children or youth to receive those messages in a meaningful way – it’s just so much “blah blah blah” from mom or dad. What we want them to know sits deeply within us, but it may be hard for a child or youth to find a place to hold that message within himself or herself.
How do we support the development of that place within to support that meaningful exchange between parent and child?
One answer our congregation has offered for this question has been Our Whole Lives, the comprehensive sexuality education program. We have offered comprehensive sexuality education for middle school youth for at least two decades. In 2005, we offered OWL Kindergarten-Grade 2 for the first time; in 2006 OWL 5-6. The beauty of Our Whole Lives is that it allows each child or youth to build that place within himself or herself – starting with an awe-filled celebration of “where did I come from?” and moving on to explore personal boundaries and relationships at each developmental stage to a full and elaborate understanding of sexual behavior and ethics. In addition, the children’s programs in particular promote open parent-child communication about sexuality – an important stepping stone toward conversations during adolescence.
I’m proud to serve a congregation that embraces wholeness by putting its resources into sexuality education. I do believe it is one of the best things we do.
Old Timey Halloween Party
Carve a jack o’ lantern, bob for doughnuts, or hang out in the dark by the fire with your friends from church at this low-tech celebration of the harvest, the gathering darkness, and the joy of being together. We will gather on Oct. 29 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Costume optional but fun!
Our Whole Lives: Comprehensive Sexuality Education for Children and Youth
This year, the religious education program will offer three separate comprehensive sexuality education programs for children and youth.
Our Whole Lives Grades 1-2: Young children explore the miracles of birth, babies, and bodies in 8 lessons taught during the Sunday morning religious education program. Weekly take-home activities for parent and child promote the extension of the conversation begun at church. A parent meeting will be held on a Sunday in November. Parent-child orientation will be held after church in January. Lessons begin in late January.
Our Whole Lives Grades 5-6: Children learn about puberty, decision-making, communication, and values in this optional program. Sessions are held on Sunday late afternoons; they are not part of the Sunday morning program. Weekly reading assignments and activities are intended to be shared by child and parent. A parent meeting will be held on a Sunday in November. Parent-child orientation will be held after church in January. This 9 session program will be offered January through March. This year we will offer this program in concert with the Foxborough and Canton churches.
Our Whole Lives Grades 7-8: Middle school youth benefit from an in-depth look at many aspects of sexuality with a strong focus on complete information, decision-making, and ethics. Sessions are held on Sunday late afternoon/ early evening. A mandatory parent orientation session is held to launch the program. This 27 session program will be offered from November through April this year. This year we will offer this program in concert with the Foxborough and Canton churches.
Our Whole Lives 7-8: Mandatory Parent Orientation
The Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education program for 7th and 8th graders will begin on Sunday, October 17, with a mandatory Parent Orientation. Parents who want their 7th and 8th graders to participate in OWL must attend this entire meeting (5-7pm) in order for their child to participate in OWL 7-8. Our Whole Lives teachers Aidan Cunningham and Janet Limke from this church, Lisette Neale from Foxborough, and Charlie Earle from Canton will share information about the OWL program philosophy and teaching methods, review OWL visual materials, and respond to parent questions and concerns. 7th and 8th grade parents are asked to e-mail Louise Marcoux to confirm that they will attend this critically important meeting.
Meet our New Nursery Care Provider
Who will be there to greet your little one on Sunday morning?
Our new nursery care provider is Thais Teixeira (pronounced tie-yees). Thais hails from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She comes to us with many years of experience caring for children of all ages; starting with her siblings (she’s one of the older ones in a large family) and through her years an au pair. She is currently working on her Master’s degree in English as a Second Language—which is how our previous nursery provider, Vanessa, knows her. Thais is excited to meet the children of our church and learn their interests, likes, and dislikes. She’s looking forward to lots of fun, imaginative play, and music in our bright, sunny nursery.
Please feel free to come by the nursery before church to introduce yourself and your little one to Thais.
Childcare is available on Sunday mornings for children of all ages between 9 and 10 am (during choir practice). Nursery care, for children from birth up to 3rd birthday, is available from 10 am until 11:40 am. Parents are always welcome to stay with their child in the nursery.
Small Group Ministry for Youth
We will meet on the first Sunday of each month from 10:15 to 11:30 in the Minster’s Study. This is an opportunity for youth to gather together with a focus on deep listening and greater sharing, as they worship together and reflect on their spiritual lives. Small Group Ministry is open to all high school age youth, regardless of their involvement in Youth Group or other church activities. Youth teaching in the RE classes can be scheduled so that they are free to join SGM if they wish. Questions or Ideas? Contact Sue Bollens at 401- 295-7549.
Youth Group Retreats
Save the Dates — Retreats at Cedar Hill in Duxbury: Junior Youth Overnight Friday, Nov. 19 and Senior Youth Overnight Saturday, Nov. 20. Time to play games, walk on the beach, share meals, laugh lots, walk the labyrinth, and worship together. This is the best — we want everyone there! Questions or Ideas? Contact Sue Bollens at 401- 295-7549.
The Holiday Make-and-Take Craft Workshop
The Holiday Make-and-Take Craft Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, November 13. Adults who enjoy supporting the efforts of young woodworkers, painters, and hand crafters are encouraged to contact Alison Reid, Kate Parker-O’Toole, or Christine Cavallaro. Children and youth – please save the date! The Holiday Make-and-Take offers children and youth the opportunity to be an elf for an afternoon: to choose from a wide array of arts and crafts projects and to make gifts from the heart in preparation for the upcoming holidays.