I don't know why I thought of this today, but the memory brought a smile to my face, so I figured I'd blog about it.
I am the second of seven children. One might think when I came along things were still pretty easy for my mom. Wrong. I was a colicky baby, only happy if I was held or given a bottle, or better yet -- both! Although I eventually grew out of the colic, apparently I was a bit of a handful as a toddler.
*Allegedly* I liked to have certain things a certain way (my way) and would cry if they didn't occur in that way. The phrases, "Go to your room, Emma" and "If you're going to cry, go to bed, Emma" were phrases I heard on a daily, if not hourly basis. In addition to the whiny-cry-baby terrible two's, I was fidgety. I couldn't sit still, or be content for very long and from the time I started talking I was an incessant chatter-box.
However, the "difficult" child in me did not stop my mom from having more children right away, nor from having them one after the other. 3 children under age 3 and pregnant. That is where this memory begins.
I can only imagine the chaos of getting 3 under 3 ready for church in the morning, then once there sitting quietly in our pew. When I was older and there were 7 kids under 8, people would tell my mother, "Your children are so well-behaved in church." I used to think, "yeah -- because she's threatened us with our lives." Haha. But as a 2 year old, I don't really know what people thought or how we acted. I know I must have been a handful though, because I was allowed to sit with other people.
The Bournes. The Bournes were a young, married couple that went to our church. They did not have any children for quite a few years, and for some reason took a liking to me. I remember turning around in the pew, my eyes searching the congregation for them each Sunday. As soon as I spotted them, they'd wave for me to come and sit with them. I would nudge my mother, point in their direction and wait for her approved dismissal, which was always a nod and the whispered admonishment, "fold your arms". Dutifully, I'd fold my arms and walk as quietly as I could to their bench and sit with them the rest of the service.
Then, there was "Chid". Sharon Chiddister was a single woman, close to my mom's age whom didn't have children of her own. Many Sundays she'd sit near my parents and I remember quite often sitting on her lap and her rocking me to sleep.
I don't recall how often those "helpers" in church came to my mother's rescue, but it happened enough for me to remember. The Bournes eventually had their own children and moved away. Chid remained in the area, and over the years has always found a family to sit near in church and help with their children. I remember one family moved in, with 2 small active boys. Then, the mother was expecting twins. Chid was there to help out every Sunday. This was a huge blessing for the wife, because the husband had Sunday duties that required him to sit up on the stand next to the Bishop. A few years after the twins were born, the wife became pregnant again - with another set of twins. When I went back home to visit this past summer, I noticed that even though those kids are all teenagers now, Chid still sits with them and she is still like a part of their family, and their dad IS the Bishop now so I am sure she is a great help!
As a teenager, there was a family in our church with 8 kids, whom I babysat quite often. I started babysitting when # 6 was born, and instantly fell in love with that baby. We sat behind them every Sunday at church, and I always held him or let him sit by me until I went off to college when he was about 4. Truth be told, I didn't even realize he was a handful, until his mother said something to me a few years later, about how she was always grateful for me helping her out on Sundays because he was such a handful.
In church now I lead the music on Sundays. I sit up near the organ and I can look out into the congregation and see who's sleeping (haha), which babies are crying, which children are acting up and which mothers are struggling. I do notice a few childless couples or families with teenagers sitting near families with smaller children and offering their help whenever possible. I can always tell that the mothers are grateful too. But, I've also seen a few others in the congregation shoot disapproving looks towards some mothers - as if to say, "Get your kids under control!" I was thinking this past Sunday when I saw one woman give such a glare, wondering if anyone ever thought that about my mom while I was being "out of control"? Made me grateful to those "Angels among us" who offered to sit near us and help out where they noticed a need. That is true Christianity right there, and of all places we should be living and carrying out our religious beliefs, you'd think one place would be church, right?
We don't know what always goes on behind closed doors, and although *WE* may think we know how this mother or that mother should discipline her children during church, and while we wish she could keep her kids "under control", don't you think that idea hasn't already crossed her mind too? I mean no mother in her right mind WANTS her child to act up and make a scene, right?
My kids are older now and aside of the occasional elbow-to-the-ribs or whispering or giggling with each other, they can pretty much manage themselves at church. Because I lead the music and sit up near the organ, and because I am a single parent, they sit up there next to me each Sunday. At first they were not thrilled with the idea, though I think they are okay with it now. I have decided through this experience, that when the time comes that I am not sitting up there leading the music, perhaps I can find a young mom with her hands full to sit near and be a "Bourne" or a "Chid"-- pay it forward or something like that.
Oh -- and for being such a "difficult" child, I think I turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself! :)