Because James gave the whole family Ebola last week, and because he had, uh, symptoms, twenty-two hours before church this morning, we couldn't leave him in the nursery like we normally do. Spurred on by the promise of Sunday School for us and the older, healthy children at 9:30, we rallied and left the house for the 8:15 service, planning to take James into Big Church with us. It would be cozy! And sweet!
We are currently teaching Wes to sit through Big Church, instead of staying in the nursery, because Me and My Big Ideas About What Children Should Be Capable Of are admittedly, probably a little bit old skool. Today was his second day, so when he and Charlie wanted to sit ahead of us, together, in an empty pew, I had no problem with it.
Until Charlie started trying to climb over the back of the pew during the Introit. And the Wes started crawling down the length of the pew, laughing all the way, toward the aisle. I managed to get Charlie settled next to me and then Wes verrrrrry slowly slid down the pew onto the floor and briefly out of sight before scooting out near our feet QUITE proud of himself.
I grabbed him by the arms and tried to make him sit next to me, but then it was time for everyone to stand up for the Call to Worship.
Celebrant: May our lives witness to Christ's love.
Me: May our thoughts be of peace and our--CHARLIE, SIT UP.
Celebrant: May our faith be a sign of hope.
Me: May our--WES, COME HERE. COME HERE RIGHT NOW. SIT DOWN. CHARLIE, SIT UP. I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE TIRED WE DON'T SLEEP IN CHURCH.
Then we sang "God of Grace and God of Glory".
The grace and glory of God was not evident in our pew.
Bored with their game of "Page Through The Hymnal As If It Was an Eric Carle Board Book", Wes reached over and poked Charlie. Charlie poked Wes harder. Wes poked Charlie harder. I grabbed Wes and sat him between me and Ryan, Charlie trying to get one last poke in all the way. I acted on primal motherly instinct to grab Charlie's arm and hold it awkwardly up by his ear as I hissed at him to KNOCK IT OFF.
Finally, a welcome diversion--Wes got to go to the front for the Birthday Prayer. I stood behind him as the minister prayed and patted his head gently with his hand. I smiled as I thought of how grown up he is and how proud I am of him. Then it was over and he tried to walk back to our pew on his knees like a penitent walking the labyrinth at Chatres.
I tried to maintain some dignity as we sang the Doxology, but right after it started James flung his pacifier two pews behind us and started squawking.
I acted quickly.
WES, I NEED YOUR HELP. YOU SEE THAT PACI? GO GET IT!
He dropped to his stomach and slithered the six feet back, got the paci, and returned it triumphantly to James. James settled into his blanket in Ryan's arms.
For about ten seconds, then he started bucking and shrieking. I was already on my feet, having chased Charlie back into our pew from a position several rows back, so I spirited him away to the aptly named "Cry Room" at the back of the church for some brunch.
Several sweet, grandmotherly types who had been enjoying our little side show gave me knowing smiles and patted James sweetly on the foot as we passed.
James fell asleep in my arms and it was once again peaceful and sweet. I settled into the comfortable rocker and listened to the sermon.
Then Ryan, Charlie, and Wes came barreling through the cry room for a potty break. First one, then the other had to take his turn at the potty AND the sink AND the paper towel dispenser AND the trash can and then they all had to try each of the rocking chairs and gliders.
They returned to the pew for the remainder of the sermon while I stayed with James. When it was over Ryan dropped them off at Sunday School like a bad habit and joined me and James at our blissfully adult Sunday School class upstairs.
Where James continued his wiggly disruptive ways.
Everyone better be nursery-ready next week, is all I'm saying.