“Mom! Can’t you sit still?” my middle son demanded in church this morning. It was the Easter service and the Cherub Choir was singing “Shine, Jesus, Shine.” It reminded me of a time 13 years ago when I was trying to encourage my oldest, who was (supposed to be) in the cherub choir concert, to go up and sing with the rest of the kids, but instead he wanted to dance barefoot on the pews.
Here’s the story about that.
That particular day in church was the Cherub Choir concert – something we had been practicing for every Sunday for the two months prior. My older son was a little on the young side; the kids were supposed to be at least three, but he has such a big talker, I thought he’d enjoy it. He can hold a good conversation on the phone and he loves to sing and the way he belts out the ABC song or the Thomas theme song, I thought for sure he’d be able to sing a couple of Jesus songs, especially since we practiced them in the car all the time.
I should have known by the antics at the rehearsal the week before that things might not go as smoothly as I had hoped. He had been playing with another kid’s toy in the nursery and the kid wanted it back, and my son hadn’t gotten over the insult of having to return it to its rightful owner before I picked him up for choir practice. He didn’t want to stand up with the other kids, no matter how much the older girls cajoled him. He didn’t want to participate in the processional up to the altar. As an aside, the baby was all for it. He couldn’t contain himself from clapping and dancing and twirling in circles, and cheering a big “Yayayayayay” at the end of “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” which is how it was recorded on our practice tape.
So, on the day of the big show, I came to church and found out that there was no nursery care, because the nursery attendant had kids in the cherub choir, too. I had hoped to leave the baby there so I would only have to juggle one boy. As it turned out, I had to carry my younger son, juggling him with my oversized handbag (yes, I finally got a purse that fits diapers, rather than carry a diaper bag), while dragging his older brother up the stairs, while trying to keep our place in the front of the processional, since it was arranged by height. Then we had to stand on the landing with about 20 other little kids and some parents until it was our turn to file into the two front pews of the church. At some point I realized the underwire of my bra had broken free and was poking me. Then we got to sit there for what seemed like an eternity until it was time for the performance. My older son was kicking the pews as he sat next to me. The baby was finishing his baba on my lap (I wished there was more in his bottle to keep him occupied).
Finally, it was time for the choir to get on stage. This part is all a blur to me. There I was in the front of the church, with two toddlers going in two different directions. My older son was jumping on the pews so I pulled his shoes off as our minister looked askance at us. I just let the baby go. It turned out he didn’t want to go too far, he just wanted to do his clap-twirl routine. I felt embarrassed, but I remembered our doctor visit the Friday before. I could barely keep both boys in the examining room, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that the woman in the next room over, who had twins, was having the same problem, I would have been completely mortified. I know I am NOT the only parent who has ever had this problem.
My older son’s grand finale, which occurred in conjunction with the end of the “show” was to fall off the pew. I was not sure his wails were more from embarrassment or hurt; regardless, he needed to be carried. And of course, so did the baby. And I needed to hustle them out along with all the other kids. A couple of the moms offered to help, but the way both boys were stuck to me, I felt like I was in the grip of a giant (underwire) octopus. I handed someone my bag and my son’s shoes. And I headed downstairs to the nursery.
After I dusted my older son off, I deposited both boys in the nursery and went back upstairs to enjoy the rest of the sermon. It wouldn’t be much longer before my older son was too old for the nursery, and then what was I going to do with him. I supposed he would come to church with me for half the sermon and then go to Sunday school with the other three-year olds, but I just couldn’t imagine how that was going to work out.
Next year, I thought. Maybe he’ll be ready next year.
But “next year” didn’t happen until 13 years later, because we started going to a different church after my divorce from their father, and then a different church after my youngest was born. We spent nine years in a Baptist church (until our pastor retired), where their rendition of Shine, Jesus, Shine is way more rocking, which is why I was kind of grooving in my seat with pantomime clapping, and why my son asked me to sit still. I think he was the one who was embarrassed this time.
Funny how times change.
This same son is the one who I sat with the night before to fill the eggs for the egg hunt, because he decided he didn’t really feel like hunting for eggs himself, at which point, I was only too happy to turn the reins over to him. “Fine, you can be in charge of it then.” We did it inside because the ground is still covered with snow, and we never got around to coloring eggs, which is okay with me, because really, I’m the only one who eats them and I do not need to eat two dozen eggs during the course of a week. Our nativity scene never got put away after Christmas and the only things anyone got in their Easter basket was a chocolate bunny (and a chocolate cross, if you were one of the kids); the main reason for having baskets at all was only to collect the eggs (and what wasn’t eaten immediately was dumped into a communal candy dish). I decided to nix any types of gifts (which at the most had only ever been a stuffed animal or t-shirt). Who ever said Easter was a present occasion anyway?
No matter how many of these things change or don’t get done, Easter is still Easter.
(And I actually have written three books since the first cherub concert, and never shared this story until now.)