Sunday, July 24, 2016

Faith and Phases and Chocolate

I've often heard it said that you can see the innocence and purity of God in the face of a child.

I've been looking for it in my boys' faces, but so far all I've seen is boogers and chocolate frosting.  And lately it seems like I have to try the hardest to see it at church, of all places.

Not only are we currently between churches ever since the outreach ministry my husband worked for came to an end, but thanks to Adler, we are also between those two blissful church stages-- the sleeping infant stage and the old-enough-for-sunday-school stage.

Sure, we could take our wily two year-old to the nursery, but staying at home with me every day has made him resistant to being left with anyone he doesn't recognize.  And while I understand that exposing him to his fears is the best way to overcome them, my biggest sympathies go to the adult manning the nursery with a handful of emotionally stable children and one screaming, red-faced, runny-nosed tyrant with a penchant for yanking on earrings.

For now, he stays with me.

My husband is the praise/worship leader and adult choir director at the Cedar Rapids church we currently attend, so during the majority of the service, I am on my own to corral all three of my boys.  Cael and Graham are usually well-behaved despite the occasional noisy outburst, but this Sunday, as we were supposed to be worshiping and devoting time to praising God, the Foreman family was putting on another show altogether.

Normally I try to distract Adler with paper and crayons during the service, but we arrived to find a new arrangement of chairs with no tables, and I could almost feel the change in pressure in the room.  This would be ugly.

Adler quickly got to work rearranging the rows of chairs while the people around us were sitting in them.  I followed behind him, trying to stop him but slowed by the string of apologies I had to make for my toddler ramming the congregants in the knees with steel chair legs.  Once I scooped him up, he rattled off a diatribe of infantile profanity laced with "Mommy!" and "Poop!" thrown in for good measure.

When the music started, Cael and Graham staged a UFC-style street fight between two of the stuffed animals they'd brought along and the turtle went flying two rows behind of us.

Adler yelled "Tuddle!" and then belched really loudly when the room got quiet.

The next 25 minutes were a blur of crayons whizzing by my face, dislodging an R2-D2 toy from Cael's shoe, breaking up a mini chocolate doughnut into as many pieces as possible to keep Adler busy, crafting a pair of bifocals for "Monkey" from a pink pipe cleaner, ripping up a napkin into as many pieces as possible for Adler to throw away (and stay busy), and above all else, not hearing anything at all that was happening in the service.

Then Adler got away from me and flipped the nozzle on a water dispenser and dumped out the toddler equivalent of a gallon of water on the floor.  I closed my eyes and said a prayer.

Dear God,
Sorry for disrupting church.  Please remind me of this day when I get baby fever.

Sometimes there are no fixes for tricky parenting problems, and on Sunday mornings I have to remind myself that this phase, too, shall pass.


And while I still search for that innocence in Adler's face, at least I know where the chocolate frosting came from.

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Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.