Monday, July 28, 2008

Marathon

All times are approximate.

[This isn't even counting the part about getting everybody dressed and shod and loaded and buckled. We're starting at the starting line, even though we weren't quite there for the starting shot.]

  • 10:02 Family enters chapel overflow sans me, as I am depositing materials in Primary classroom.
  • 10:05 I arrive in chapel overflow. G and all four children are sitting in a row. Investigator and 4yo son - let's call him Curly - are taking remaining two seats on row. I pick up Z, seats her on my lap, take my seat. S has somehow managed to bring a Lego spaceship of his own design into the chapel. I don't allow my kids to bring toys to church. I don't know how he managed this. G takes it away and out to the car to be locked up.
  • 10:09 We discover that Curly, who is very friendly, doesn't have an inside voice. Curly's mom seems not quite tuned in. I shush Curly. Curly demonstrates his perfected evil eye. Scary.
  • 10:11 Ward librarian, sensing potential crisis, brings enough paper and crayons for all five children in row. Children begin to draw.
  • 10:16 Sacrament hymn begins. I get in maybe 6-8 words. The rest of the time I am chasing Z across the aisle, where the family with the well-behaved children sits. I can see why she would like to be over there.
  • 10:19 I try to get all the boys up in their seats for the sacrament prayer. Try.
  • 10:20 K discovers that, as he refused to get up into his chair, he has missed the bread. K begins to wail.
  • 10:21 K is back down using his chair as a desk, drawing.
  • 10:22 Z wants to draw. I set her up on the chair temporarily vacated by Curly.
  • 10:24 I didn't realize it was temporary. "THAT'S MY CHAIR!" Curly has found a new enemy: my baby girl. I set him up with a new paper and crayons on the adjacent chair. This works for a while.
  • 10:29 The deacons sit down. My kids get their promised half-stick of Orbit gum. Curly comes back from wherever he is running around and of course K's first words are, "I got gum!" Then he opens his mouth to show it off.
  • 10:31 Curly has picked up Z's baby toy. I ask him to give it back. He insists it is his. I, perhaps unwisely, wrest it from his hands. He responds by snatching Z's paper and tearing it, defiant expression on his grimy, little face. I take it from him. He throws an eraser at my head. His mother takes him up to the pews.
  • 10:33 I take Z out to protect her (and me) from further retribution. K follows me.
  • 10:35 We are in the mother's lounge so that I can sit in the lone rocking chair and listen to the talks without putting my baby in danger from Curly.
  • 10:39 Z figures out how to climb up on the diaper pail and get on the counter so she can play in the water. I get her down, dry her off and place the diaper pail up on the counter.
  • 10:41 Z hits K. He wails. Z will not say sorry. ("Ah-ee," in her language, but usually she does it willingly.) I put Z in the corner for her 60-second time out; Z wails. I did get two whole minutes of the talk about pioneers, before this happened.
  • 10:42 I rock two wailing kids.
  • 10:44 K presses the foot pedal on the diaper pail, which is still up on the counter. Aroma fills the room. K finds this hysterically funny.
  • 10:45 S (age almost 9) arrives in the mother's room and wants to hang out with us. I begin to contemplate how unfair it is that I am in this room with three children and G is in the chapel with one.
  • 10:47 A sister in the ward arrives in the mother's room to change her granddaughter's diaper. We willingly evacuate and return to the chapel. Curly and his mom are gone.
  • 10:49 S and A request a bathroom trip. G accedes. K tries to follow them. I do not accede.
  • 10:51 Z wails. I can't remember now why. G takes her out. K is squirmy.
  • 10:57 S and A have not returned. With a firm grip on K's hand, I set off in search of them. S is in the foyer with G. I tell him to get back in the chapel. He is big enough to sit and listen.
  • 10:58 I find A playing on the stairs with his friend. I tell him to get back in the chapel. He is big enough to sit and listen.
  • 10:59 When I return to the chapel, the man behind our row tells me S has taken my keys out of the famously gargantuan church bag and left the room. On pain of death, K and A are instructed to stay in their seats while I go find S. K sniffles.
  • 11:00 I find S in the foyer and insist on the return of they keys. (Have you figured out why he had them? Do you even remember the beginning of this meeting by this time?) S asks how long until the end of the meeting. Ten minutes, a.k.a. time and all eternity. Flattened, I agree that S may go wait in his classroom.
  • 11:01 Returning again to the meeting, I survey the crayons, papers and gum wrappers strewn over our row and the one in front of us. G has returned with Z. G is listening to the final speaker. Z is looking for the Orbit gum. She ain't no dumb bunny. I get it from her just in time.
  • 11:03 K makes a run for it. While I am running after him. A gets up, announcing he is getting a drink of water. I put the kibosh on that. He's darling, but sometimes he is really full of it. He can wait seven minutes.
  • 11:07 Apparently I have blocked this out. I don't know how I got to the end of the meeting.
  • 11:08 Mercifully, the closing prayer. K and A fold their arms. It's cute. They can't keep it up for more than 30 seconds. The prayer goes on much longer than that. Much. We struggle.
  • 11:11 I confiscate a McDonald's toy that has appeared out of nowhere as A hustles off to Primary. I beg G to please pick up the crayons while I take Z to nursery.
  • 11:12 Bishop's wife comes over to tell me I am doing a good job. Well, it's nice of her to say that. Sigh.

The point of this is to justify to myself why I was not more friendly to Curly's mom. I fear we drove her away today. But, honestly, I can't be a member missionary at church. I can't even get myself spiritually fed, much less anyone else. I am just trying to survive and instill this ritual in the rising generation. Because if I can get them to listen, they will have a few years to be fed and strengthened there. Before they have kids.

9 comments:

Essy said...

Sorry Anna, but I had to chuckle...been there...and I only have two...lol.

Amira said...

Closing prayers should always be short in meetings with chidren. I think this should be a written rule. Because people who don't have little children forget all the time.

And the bishop's wife was right.

Tandy said...

Oh I was laughing, and I'm slightly relieved I am not the only one. In fact, I am guilty of skipping SM the weeks that DH works and just hitting the last two hours of the block.

You are doing a great job! :)

Melessa said...

I could have written much of this myself. I am an adult convert and a returned missionary. I would have acted exactly as you did with Curly and his mom. And you ARE doing a good job.

Bek said...

Oh man. I hear you.

We are in the magic window where J will sit still (mostly) and N isn't too much of a wild woman yet. I figure we have about 8 good weeks before we lose the window...

I figure we are getting points for obedience, right?

SalGal said...

Oh my gosh, all I can think of is how I would've made a fully-functioning gun out of the legos and killed everyone in the room.

I'm so mad that Investigator chick let her kid treat you that way! And G needs a kick in the pants for "letting" you deal with all of that.

I think I'm PMSing. Angriness all over the place.

Conrad's said...

We seriously should still be in the same ward. We could have a naughty kids room all too ourselves. I'm feeling like the ward freak show right now.

Rachel said...

I think that it is awesome that you got to church before the sacrament was over! (We did not make it before the sacrament was over, and I have half the number of kids that you do.)

Margaret said...

Too hilarious! One day I should document my traumas just during a sacrament meeting. Oh and the well behaved kids, I bet they aren't if they are sitting in the overflow. (late to church tsk tsk lol) But really I'm sure they aren't, you only notice your own kids at church. It's true! And I loved your bit about the mother's room. My BIL the other day informed me that when he goes to the Priesthood Session during conference he and his brother bring Arby's and always go sit in the mother's room. Says it's the best place a church has! lol Good for you for going in there!