Our church has a cry room in the back of the sanctuary where you can take your unruly children and still hear and see the service. It has a sweet row of rocking chairs facing a wall of windows opening onto the sanctuary. It has toys and crayons and puzzles. It is really lovely, but we rarely use it for the big boys anymore because I have a fantasy about all of us sitting in church together that is rarely as fidgety and annoying as the reality turns out to be. The cry room also has the closest bathroom to the sanctuary, so when Wes told me just after the Confession of Sins this morning that he had to go potty, I spirited him back there faster than you could say "Lord Hear Our Prayer".
We dashed through the cry room, past all the calm, serene looking parents holding cute little nicely-dressed infants (girls, all of them, I might add). I left Charlie sitting on a glider and joined Wes in the bathroom to make sure there wasn't any funny business. They have been known to request a trip to the bathroom mid-service only to lock the door and fool around in the bathroom for extended periods of time just to get out of church. As I have told them many times, we are not here to fool around, we are here to draw pictures of your stuffed animals on the back of the bulletin, complain about how looooong this is taking, and be reminded forty-seven thousand times to sit up and stop talking FOR THE LAST TIME SO HELP ME.
Once you are in the little bathroom and the loud exhaust fan is going it's like you've passed through a portal into another dimension. The rest of the world ceases to exist! There is no quiet room full of people on the other side of the door! In other words, I was not using my church voice when I was having the following conversation:
"Go potty, please. Wes, it's time to go potty. Stop doing that. Go potty. Take your pants off first. Undies too. Go potty. Go potty. FACE THE TOILET OMG WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Go get a paper towel and wipe that up. Now. Go right now. So help me God if you don't get a paper towel and wipe that up right now you are going straight to bed when we get home do you understand me? Pick it up. Stand up. Put your undies back on. Put your pants back on. Stand up please. Stand up. DON'T TOUCH THAT! DON'T PUT YOUR HANDS IN YOUR MOUTH! OK, now put your shoes back on. Let's wash our hands (and now we're singing "Wash, wash, wash your hands, after work and play! Scrub 'em, rinse 'em, shake 'em, dry 'em! Wash the germs away!" to the tune of Row Row Row Your Boat). It's time to go back to church. Quickly please. Finish up. Let's finish up, please. Come on Wes. Time to go back to church. DON'T TOUCH THAT WITH YOUR HANDS. Time to go. Time to go. Time to go."
Wes was just as vocal, but not as verbal. There was lots of whining and shrieking and sighs of exasperation.
When I opened the door I was sweating a little and four mothers of sweet little infant girls were staring at me in thinly veiled horror as I stood blinking in the sudden glare of the fluorescent lights.
Oh right. It's a bathroom not a soundproof booth.
I smoothed my skirt, straightened my posture and smiled at Charlie and Wes.
"Time to go back to our seats, cutie patooties!" I trilled, with great maternal warmth, then affectionately mussed Charlie's hair.
They obediently fell in line behind me like ducklings and bounced back to our pew.
Later, Charlie would wait until we were all buckled into the car before telling me he had to go to the bathroom. We'll call that Part II.