I’ve always thought church offered an interesting look at social dynamics. You are gathered together in a holy place (in this case, a very hot, historic place without AC) with dozens of other people you do not know to worship an unseen force. It’s rare that we go these days because we’re dead tired every weekend but two weeks ago we made it because Luke was getting baptized. Of course, my 23-month-old daughter, a star in the making, found a way to later steal the show.
Thanks to the “children’s sermon,” Ella was able to sit on the floor in front of the congregation by the pulpit with all other other kids. She enjoyed this so much she decided to stay after all the others rejoined their families. With hymnal book and program in one hand and a pencil in the other, Ella pretended to intently take notes while the minister continued with service. She was totally oblivious to the fact that everyone was supposed to sit in the pews. Chris was mortified–I thought it was hilarious (as did my parents who kept taking pics with their iPhone), but I also didn’t want to cause a seen, so I tried to get her.
Every time I stood up to leave the pew and grab her, an elderly man across the aisle yelled, “It’s okay! Just leave her!”
Embarrassed, I sat back down each time. Then Ella decided to stretch out next to the flowers on the bottom step of the pulpit and close her eyes as if it were nap time.
Chris whispered, “We have to get her!” Again, I tried to get up and the man ordered me to let it go. He was trying to be helpful, but it didn’t make me feel any less like a parent letting their child run wild.
Incidentally, this was the minister’s last day at the church, so they had planned a special goodbye presentation for him, during which my daughter decided to walk around and inspect the guitars, flowers, just about anything under three feet around her! What was I to do?! I didn’t want to interrupt this very touching moment of goodbyes, but I also didn’t want Ella to push over one of God’s instruments!
Finally, Ella ran towards our pew. I swooped her up and carried her outside. No one was giving me ugly looks, but of course I couldn’t chance Ella having another rendez-vous by the alter.
When service was over, my husband told me that the older man approached him to give him some friendly advice, “You should relax. We understand how kids are. No need to worry!”
This reminded me of getting yelled at on the subway once because a man was sleeping on me (in my book Encounters with Strangers). At least this time I was being told to “let it go” instead of “get your $hit and go!”