During the year there are assorted topics (e.g., Christmas, Immaculate Conception, Mother of God, Visitation, Adam & Eve, marriage, Original Sin) that involve having children. On these occasions, I use my 3" plastic fetus to emphasize the baby in the womb is a baby, a person, and to get the kids accustomed to the idea that a weird-looking fetus is no less a person..."hey, were y'all persons when y'all looked like this plastic fetus? Oh yes indeed we were!"
Each year I try to line up a pregnant couple for class. Before the baby is born, I bring in an ultrasound and introduce the baby (by name when possible). We briefly discuss the person-ness of the baby and compare the ultrasound to the plastic baby. I tell the kids they'll have the chance to hold this baby in a couple of months (many 6th graders have never held a baby) and ask the parents (mostly the mother) questions (typical: did it hurt?). The kids should develop an intuitive understanding of the personhood of the baby from conception through birth.
Yesterday was Baby Night, and as is usual for Baby Night, it was a great class. To start things off, everyone cleaned hands with sanitizer. All but one student who was under the weather held baby Avery, the second daughter of my brother Knight (of Columbus) Michael. Avery is about 2 months old, so she was able to make eye-contact with each child who held her; we've always had a baby who can do this, it matters. Baby-holding takes place in the back of the classroom so everyone else can pay attention to the evening's subject matter, which in this case was the 4th Commandment. Because it was also Baby Night, the parent-honoring was was briefly preluded with this:
God is Love. In the beginning God was alone, so what did he do? He made everything. Yes, he created everything. Love always wants to create, because love comes from God, who is Love, and thus Love.... creates? Yes. My daughter Alexandra has a boyfriend who loves her. Her birthday was on Saturday, what did he do? Well, what does love do? Umm....create? Yeah, so?...he made something? Yes, what do we make on someone's birthday? A birthday cake? Yes, he made her a cake. Loves wants to create, to make. A drawing, a poem, music, a cake. That's why a gift we make is usually more meaningful than something we buy. So if love creates, and husbands & wives love each other, what does their love create? Babies? Yes, so remember: baby Avery, who you'll get to hold tonight, is a creation of her parents' love for each other.
(This all is elaborated on in our Adam & Eve class, Dirt & Ribs, and elsewhere, but it's good to get a bit of it in front of them now, while the baby reinforces it physically.)
After everyone had held (and even re-held) the baby, Michael said his family was going be celebrating Avery's spiritual birthday soon, and invited the class to her Baptism. We'll spend next week's class on Baptism, using this as a guide: Blood & Water. Having an upcoming baptism gives some urgency & seriousness to the information.