W is for Wilfrid and Waldemar
Not many words begin with w in the Swedish alphabet, because this letter is often replaced by v. However, as the only children in our Worship Group are called Wilfrid and Waldemar it seems appropriate to write about them in this Quaker-related space.
Waldemar is now six and his brother Wilfrid four. They come to our once-a-month Meeting for Worship with their parents and are an integral part of our group. Both boys stay in Meeting for as long as they feel able. During that time they draw or crayon in their sketch books or read one of the books from their reading bags. When they come to Meeting they are always well equipped with materials and each boy has his own bag of books from which to choose. When they get restless one of their parents takes them to another room in the house for other activities, while the other remains in Meeting.
This has also posed a challenge to the rest of us in the group. Do we always expect their parents to take care of them and keep them occupied, or can another of us take responsibility for them? In Advices and Queries we are encouraged to “Rejoice in the presence of children and young people in your meeting and recognise the gifts they bring. Remember that the meeting as a whole shares a responsibility for every child in its care. Seek for them as for yourself a full development of God’s gifts and the abundant life Jesus tells us can be ours. How do you share your deepest beliefs with them, while leaving them free to develop as the spirit of God may lead them? Do you invite them to share their insights with you? Are you ready both to learn from them and to accept your responsibilities towards them?”(Advice 19, Britain Yearly Meeting)
Despite attempts to address the issue, it has proved difficult to come to any real solution, given that the group only meets once a month for Meeting, in our homes, and regards it as a precious opportunity to worship together. No-one has really been keen to leave the Meeting for Worship and do something with the children, although one or two have tried to set an example.
A more fertile discussion ground may be prepared when we meet in December, because this autumn we have included a ‘study’ session – in worship-sharing mode – before our Meeting for Worship in order to address topics that concern us. In December we will meet at the home of the children and the ‘study session’ will revolve around them. Might this be the beginning of a more inclusive taking of responsibility? I hope so.