Prescient me

Last Friday was the last day of Angelborough’s Vacation Bible School.

I never expected that week to be so exhausting, but from the moment we entered the sanctuary we were always “on,” and I’d get home by lunchtime physically exhausted. My little introverted heart shrank from all the noise, too. The church had been designed by the best minds in barn-building architecture to pick up the slightest ambient noise and echo it off the hardwood floor and bare walls, whereas the speaker in the alcove at the front produced no sound whatsoever, even when aided by a microphone.

The result was similar to standing in a wind tunnel while airplanes roared overhead, except you wouldn’t have been able to hear the airplanes.

On the last day, the other two teachers and I handed out the craft bags to the kids and had them sit in the rows of the church awaiting the final dismissal.

The craft bags contained sand paintings, coloring sheets, a photo frame made from a CD, and a flying saucer. At least, I think it was supposed to be a flying saucer. Maybe you can tell me what it was supposed to be:


  1. Take two aluminum pie tins and punch six holes along the edges at even intervals.
  2. Fill one pie pan with a handful of raw macaroni.
  3. Fasten the second pie pan over the first and with pipe cleaners through the holes.
  4. Decorate the outside with stickers.
  5. Lift the thing and realize twenty-six mothers are going to put your photo on a dartboard while chanting voodoo incantations.

Since the theme of the week was “outer space,” they were probably thinking this is a great craft on the grounds that sound doesn’t travel in space. So, if you ever teach VBS in orbit around Alpha Centauri, come back and print out the directions.

Here in the church sanctuary, on Earth where the atmosphere carries sound waves and barn-style churches amplify ambient noise, the first eager camper pulled out the flying saucer and gave it a shake.  His neighbor reached into her bag, and she too, with a cherubic smile, started shaking hers.

A minute later, with five kids shaking their pie-tin-macaroni contraptions, I had the dim thought, “This is not going to work out well.”

Within thirty seconds, sixty children had pulled their noisemakers from their craft bags.

One of the VBS leaders ran to the front, grabbed the microphone, and explained to the kids that ”                                ” and then, looking panicked, said, ”                        !!” but for some reason, that didn’t have any effect.

It took five minutes to get the kids calm enough that the VBS director could shout (and be heard), “PUT YOUR CRAFTS BACK IN THE BAGS!” and then “DO NOT TAKE THEM OUT AGAIN.”

It worked. Kind of.

Three days earlier, as I stood over Kiddo#3 while the kids were making the crafts, I said in a low voice, “This is going to drive your mother crazy.”

Another camper looked up, confused. “But you are his mother.”

I replied, “Then I would know, wouldn’t I?”

Prescient. That’s me.


  1. Normandie

    Jane, I love it when I find a new post from you. I either get to think a lot or I get to laugh. Last night we were up with the possibility of a storm (only some wind here; those just north of us got the big slam). I needed a chuckle.

    1. philangelus

      I’m glad you’re laughing. 😉 Just as long as you don’t need to think a lot about whether something was supposed to be funny, or laugh at something that sounds like it should have been thought-provoking.

      You know, it’s been seven days since we made that craft. It’s theoretically possible that the sound-waves stirred up enough of an atmospheric disturbance that they created a front which has now finished traveling around the entire globe in order to create the storm just north of you. 😯 !!! **prayers** for smooth sailing.

  2. Snarky Agent-man

    Hilarious. Thank God I don’t have kids, as I would make them play the Silent-and-still-like-the-grave game all the time, not just at nap and bed time.

    1. philangelus

      One of my kids saw Snow White, and then proceeded to collect all his stuffed animals and line them up on the couch. He then laid down on the couch with his hands folded over his abdomen, eyes closed, and stayed still for about five minutes. Finally he said to me, “Being dead is boring.” Yep. That’s why when you’re having a good time, you’re the life of the party, not the death of the party. Go figure.

      My friends found that very disturbing, though, so I had to discourage that avenue of play.

      1. Kaci

        If it makes you feel better, I used to “play possum” which is the same thing. I, ah, just made a point to not get caught. 0=)

  3. Normandie

    I remember the days. My son brought home other sons, and no one does noise better, especially in the small house we lived in during those days. The girls giggled, but the boys banged and hooted and shot imaginary guns and made drums of everything they could find and raced through the house to the outside and back in again.

    Once, when Josh went to visit his little buddy Samuel (the one in the story on my site) they went after the killer chickens. With their stick guns. Poor, poor chickens.

    1. philangelus

      🙁 And for the first time in human history, chickens laid scrambled eggs.

  4. Normandie


  5. cricketB

    Years ago, one of the Pathfinders I led (Girl Scout, Canadian, age 12-15) came to me with the look I knew well from similar experiences. “I told the Brownie leaders I help that glitter would get everywhere and be a bad idea, but they looked at me like I was just a kid and couldn’t possible know as much as the mothers leading the group. Guess who ended up sweeping the floor three times?”

    Nine times out of ten, the teenagers (who are there because they enjoyed VBS or Guides as kids) are better at predicting this sort of thing than the leaders.

    Meanwhile, I’ll check out the speed of sound and get my earplugs ready. (BTW, the noise from Dtr’s Screaming Olympics — she won — should pass at about the mid-point.)

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