“Primary Manners,” Friend, Dec. 2009, 38–40
Nathan held Mom’s hand tightly as they walked into the Primary room. Today was Nathan’s second week in the Sunbeam class. His stomach felt fluttery, and with each step, he walked a little more slowly.
Last week, Primary had been kind of confusing. During singing time, Mia kept standing up and turning around in circles. Nathan was tired of sitting, so he stood up too. But then his teacher asked him to sit back down. During sharing time, some of the older children talked and laughed. Sometimes it was too noisy to hear what Sister Miranda, the Primary president, was saying. When his friend Cara started crying, it made Nathan feel like crying too.
As he got closer to the front row, Nathan didn’t want to let go of Mom’s hand. He was worried that Primary would be confusing this week too. Then he saw his teacher.
“Hi, Nathan,” Sister Tejada said. “I’m glad to see you.” Sister Tejada patted the seat next to her.
Nathan liked his teacher’s friendly smile. He let go of Mom’s hand and sat down by Sister Tejada.
“I’ll be back to pick you up after class,” Mom said. “Remember to be reverent.”
Nathan wasn’t sure he knew how.
After the opening prayer, Sister Miranda stood up. “Today we have a special visitor,” she said.
Suddenly, a puppet appeared from behind a table next to Sister Miranda. The puppet wiggled, waved his arms, and said, “Is it time to go yet? I need a drink!”
Some of the children giggled.
“This is Arlo’s first time in Primary,” Sister Miranda said, “and he doesn’t know how to be reverent. But before he can be reverent, he needs to learn good Primary manners.”
Nathan was surprised. At dinner Mom sometimes reminded him to put his napkin on his lap. That was good manners. And Dad always asked everyone to thank Mom for the nice meal before they started clearing off the table. That was good manners too. But what were Primary manners?
Arlo leaned backward over the front of the table. “Hey, everybody looks funny upside down!” he said.
“Good manners are rules that show we respect other people,” Sister Miranda explained. “Arlo doesn’t know the rules for good Primary manners. Do you think we could teach him?” she asked.
Sister Miranda went to the chalkboard and drew an arm. “What should Arlo do with his arms?” she asked.
“Fold them!” Mia called out.
“That’s right,” Sister Miranda said.
Arlo sat up. He folded his arms and raised them over his head. “Oh, you mean like this?” he asked.
Nathan knew that wasn’t right.
Sister Miranda asked if everyone in Primary could show Arlo how to fold his arms.
Nathan quickly folded his arms. Arlo folded his arms too.
On the chalkboard, next to the drawing of the arm, Sister Miranda wrote, “Fold our arms.”
As Sister Miranda drew more pictures, the children taught Arlo the rules for good Primary manners. Nathan was glad that he knew most of them already.
Now Arlo wasn’t wiggling or waving his arms or calling out. His legs were still, and his arms were folded. The children were listening quietly too. Primary didn’t seem noisy and confusing anymore. Nathan felt calm and happy. It wouldn’t be too hard to be reverent in Primary. He already knew how.