Guest Post: Blessed Are the Children

From Clara, a friend of mine, and blessed mother of two blessed little children.

Typically, my kids are totally fine in church. But my in-law’s church in Western NY is a “mission” church and is probably the size of a living room.

The Sunday after Christmas, we went to church with my in-law’s. My father-in-law is in training to be a deacon and he officiates with the priest, so he was up front. We sat in a pew with my mother-in-law, and between my husband, me, Vincent on my lap and Gianna plus her coloring stuff and the diaper backpack on the floor, we were kind of smushed in there.

The priest is going to be 99 years old this year. He is an amazing guy, and has lived a heck of a life – he’s even published a book. He has complimented me for babywearing and breastfeeding in the past. He is, as of recently, getting a little confused and loops his sermons sometimes, and sometimes loses himself in a tangent, but for now, it’s church as usual.

Due to all of the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day crazy, plus the ~400 mile car trip, Gianna was full of all of the lovely 3.5 year old behaviors, and Vincent was clingy and nursing like a newborn each time a new situation presented itself. No sooner had we arrived, than I had to change his diaper. The back area (containing the bathroom) is just beyond the lectern, where the priest stands. So up I went, swished past the priest, avoided the candles, and entered the back. The priest interrupted his sermon to fondly look at my retreating back and remarked, “Oh, she must be going into the back for instruction with Dorothy (his wife, who does Sunday School with the small kids); that’s wonderful. You are never too old for instruction.” His gaze then fell on Gianna, who was talking to herself in Veggie Tales voices while drawing Veggie characters. He asked what her name was, and somehow between my husband and mother-in-law, they relayed that it was Gianna. He wanted to call her Giovanna, and was confused when they told him it was not that. He sighed and then remarked that it was strange that “they had changed the spelling of Giovanna…”

My father-in-law got the priest back on track with the sermon, I returned and Vincent immediately wanted to nurse again. While he was nursing, Gianna started getting very involved in her Veggies, making them shriek at each other. I reminded her to be quiet. She told me to “Shush,” and then gave me the 3.5 sassy look. I asked if she needed a break in the back, she said no. Vincent, meanwhile, ripped at my shirt and yanked on my hair and kicked really hard, kicking into Gianna. After many redirections of Gianna and wrangling Vincent’s kicky legs, as well as me trying to delatch him, I finally convinced him to sit up. Around that time, the priest began to wax poetic about *something* having to do with babies, and Vincent LOUDLY filled his pants. My mother-in-law started to snicker. The priest inserted something in his sermon, and the only part I heard was, “… if John and Clara are fruitful in bringing more beautiful children into the world…” as at that moment, Gianna chose to dramatically turn around and shush the priest loudly.

I grabbed her hand, hiked the poopiest baby on planet Earth onto my hip, grabbed the diaper bag, and propelled all of us past the candles, past the priest, and into the back area. I changed the baby, and decided that a little breastmilk poop in his pants was just going to have to be there until we got home, then made Gianna go potty (her sassiness quotient increases with the amount of pee in her bladder) and finally got us all back into our pew. I fill her in on the necessity of NOT telling the priest to “Shush,” got her jazzed about using her BRAND NEW MARKERS!!! YAYY!!! and we get back into the seats.

My father-in-law said some prayers, and Vincent screeched in chorus. Gianna decided to rest her head on Vincent’s legs, and Vincent happily yanked on her hair. Gianna screeched, I disentangled her and redirected her to her markers. Times two. The third time she smilingly aimed her head into Vincent’s hands, I lost it and whispered that if she put her head into his hands ONEMORETIME, I’m going to pull her hair myself. It was that moment in parenting where sanity finally disappears, and leaves irrational crazy in its wake.

My husband stared forward for about five seconds, and then dissolved. He cannot stop laughing at the absurdity of it all, and every time he tries, it’s worse when he starts back up again. I also burst out laughing, and it was an agonizing last five or ten minutes trying to get through the end of church. Which, naturally included Vincent filling his pants one last time.

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Eternity

Seth is just getting out of his bath.  I have already kicked Simon out of the bathroom, and locked the door behind him.  The locked door draws Samantha like a moth to the flame.

Bang!  Bang!  Bang!  “Is it my turn yet?  Can I come in?  MAMA!  Unlock the door!”

“No!  Go away!”

“Is it my turn yet?  Can I come in?  MAMA!  Unlock the door!”

“It’ll be your turn in a MINUTE!”

I start refilling the bath, just for her, since I know the boys have peed in their bath.

Bang!  Bang!  Bang!  “Is it my turn yet?  Can I come in?  MAMA!  Unlock the door!”

“In a minute!  Go away!”

“MAMA!  How much longer?”

“ETERNITY!”

“Returnity?!”  She wails, “But that’s in the FALL!”

David

Saturday was a rough day, and our children behaved beautifully through some tense errands, and a lot of time in the car.  At the end of the day, right before heading for the playground, we stop in at Old Time Pottery.  Seth rides wrapped to my tummy.  Samantha sits in the seat of the cart Josh is pushing, while Simon sits in the unusually deep basket, playing with a race car.  I walk ahead down one section, to lead the way through rows of ceramic pots and garden decorations.  I can hear Josh and Samantha chatting happily as they follow.  Simon is quiet.

Simon is quiet.  I hear Josh and Samantha’s conversation come to an abrupt end as Josh exclaims, “Simon!  OH MY GOD!”  That was puzzling.  It surely couldn’t be that he’d broken anything.  Simon is quiet.  No sound of anything falling.  He had his race car.

Right before I turned around, right before Josh spoke, he’d caught the eye of a lady before she hurried away.  It was one of those looks, a “Gah, you suck as a parent!” look.  So he leans to the side of Samantha to see what on earth had gotten this woman’s panties in a wad, and that was when I heard his reaction.

So I turn around, and there is our son, standing up in the cart, casually surveying the merchandise, like a pint size version of Michelangelo’s David, stark naked.

As we wrestle him back into his clothes, while he sobs, “BUT I NEED TO BE NAKED!” another shopper passes us in the aisle, grinning.  Thank you, God, for that woman.

Death

My Gran died today.  She was in her nineties, and her body had already made it clear during the last couple of years that time was short.

It is the first time my daughter has really thought about death.  She knows about the concept, but this is the first death of a family member.  I opted to explain it simply as “she got old.”  I’m not sure of the best way, so this was my best go at it.

There was a moment of panic.  “But momma, you’ll be old before I’m grown up!”

“No, darling.  I will still be young when you’re all grown up.”  That was enough reassurance for her, for now.

We talked briefly about it being sad for us, because we have to go on living without Gran, but we will see her again, and when we see her next, she will not be old, or hurting, and neither will we.  It’s not at all sad on Gran’s side.

Samantha summed the situation up.  “It is sad.  And it’s happy, too.  It’s both.”  She thought about it for a moment more.  “And that is beautiful.”

I am in awe of her.

Feasting

Rooster by Richard AbbottSamantha was hungry when Josh got home with the groceries, and a rotisserie chicken.  We all chatted in the kitchen as the groceries were put away and the rest of dinner finished.  Samantha’s favorite sides were already cooking, potatoes and squishy carrots.

Samantha was grinning from ear to ear, standing by the chicken on the counter, seeing all the food coming.  “It’s like we’re feasting!” she declared, pinging my insecurities about the main courses I usually serve.  She happily shared that her favorite part of the rotisserie chicken is “the peel,” and we discovered that she’d been sneaking bites, gnawing away while we were distracted.  Feasting indeed, medieval style.

She learned that the tasty seasoned “peel” she loves so much is really skin.  She thought about it for awhile and said, “So this,” gesturing at the chicken, “is like a rooster?”

I affirmed, reassuring, wary, “Yes.  It’s a chicken.  Roosters are chickens.”

“But, Mama.  I don’t think God wants us to eat roosters.”