Sunday, August 15, 2010

Small Children in Church

Church with my daughter today was not so pleasant, apparently she did better than usual in Nursery (class for 18 months-3) which apparently meant she was terrible for us during sacrament meeting. I find it extremely taxing to take care of my small children in church. A few weeks ago, we were in church with my brother in law, sister in law, and their family, their children were well behaved mine were not. I have been thinking about children in church for weeks now.
My sister in law's kids range from 11 to 4, where mine range from 4 to 20 months.  Slightly different, but I was filled with regret watching her four year old in compared to mine. Then again hers is use to sitting next to her older reverent brothers, where my four year old is use to sitting next to his 20 month sister who still can't go the entire sacrament meeting without crying MULTIPLE TIMES. Today, either my husband or I held her in the back almost the whole time.  She couldn't not stop whining.  When we were visiting family I wondered will my children be well behaved when they are 11, and 8?  I really do not know. I really really hope.
My son use to be prefect in church, oh he was a miracle, he never cried, sure he was an active child, but he was pretty good.  He rarely made noise.  Then I was in the middle of a difficult pregnancy, and I guess he was feeling neglected, not to mention we moved, and from then on he wanted to lie down in the aisle, mind you close to the bench and out of the way, but next to the aisle.  I could not move him, without getting contractions, and Brent was often busy with responsibilities that kept us from sitting together, which meant, in the aisle he stayed. Once the baby was born, and he felt even more slighted, when my husband or I tried to move him, he screamed and kicked, and left out this low grade siren-like noise on the floor in the pew.  So in the aisle he stayed.  Until we moved, it was a much more functional ward, and I could tell aisle laying would not be as accepted.  Sure I had allowed us to get in a bad habit, but who doesn't pick up some bad habits when they are trying to care for a high maintenance colic reflux baby. By that point my daughter had hit the height of her non- colic multiple hours a day crying since she was way older than 3 months old, but non the less very challenging, so my son exchanged his bad habit of aisle laying for some he picked up from here.
 In case this story isn't long enough for you, I will tell you, my children are not well behaved children in church, nothing like should be expected of them knowing who raised their parents.  But yet, life is what is, and I try my best.  I'm sure someone looks at me and wonder why is her toddler crying so much in church, and then look to my four year old and say, her preschooler too?  That is just bad form, she should teach them better.  No matter what my husband and I try they seem to be determined to really really not be happy.  My four year old did fairly well today, he spent the first 20 minutes whining, and falling out of his chair, sliding onto the ground in utter dismay, that the three packs of fruit snacks he ate during Sunbeams had not held him over, and he need a snack.  Finally after the Aaronic Priesthood sat down, after the sacrament, I gave him is snack. (I'm pretty sure he doesn't need a snack if he gets one in Primary, but all hell would brake loose in a Mormon chapel if I didn't bring it.)  He spent the next hour prostrated on the ground eating his pretzels, whispering to himself, and driving a matchbox car along the chair legs.  Yes, we thought he was almost angelic during church with behavior like that.  Some may say, take him out that isn't acceptable, but what take him out and run wild in the halls, let him wrap himself in the curtains in the halls?  No thank you, we will struggle along in the meeting.  My husband and I discussed when he is no longer allowed to lay down in church.  I mean some Sundays, we all want to sprawl out on the pew, take a little nap, but at some point it is very unbecoming.  Will he grow out of it, will we have to force him out of it?  I don't know.
Overall I feel like we are making progress it has been a month since we had to take our daughter out in the hall.  Some may wish we took her out, but we are trying to teach her to behave IN the meeting.  I was terribly embarrassed when we were visiting family, at how noisy my kids were, but I really did try. I spent the next few weeks embarrassed in my church.  But then one Sunday, my husband had priesthood duties, only 20 minutes without his help, but I felt like I was drowning faster than the clock was moving.  I thought of all those judgeful eyes staring at me, especially when my son decided to switch which pew we were sitting in.  Then I thought wait... what would Jesus think (not do)?  Would he think oh that terrible sister needs to beat those children, my children were never that poorly behaved, or would he know I was trying my best. I know it would be the later, which helped me relax, but unfortunately my relaxed state did not rub off on to the children.  But it has helped my nerves a bit more.
I have recently realized that although I know I'm not the only person capable, it was meant to be for my daughter to be my daughter, and for her to come to a family like she has.  She is very challenging, and I know a single teen-aged mother would have not been able to care for her.  I also watch many families with young kids leave church early, as awful as she behaves, the idea is not tempting to me.  I honestly can't imagine it, just as I can't imagine not paying my tithing.  Yes, my daughter need a family like she got, or she might never learn to sit in church. I've watched women struggle with children older than mine, so I'm pretty sure you don't hit a magical age where finally they are old enough.  No its an acquired skill.  I know they can do it, because they are very well behaved in my grandma's house.  Sure they can move from their seats, jump if they want, talk if they want, cry if they want, but there is plenty that is "no touch".  They know exact how to behave there, and what is allowed and what is not allowed, so one day, one day, they will finally get church. And hopefully one day after that they will love it, like their mamma does.  I love church did you know that?  They can't keep me away, I rarely spend 4 weeks away after my baby is born, I come back early from vacations.  I go to all three hours when I've visiting family or on vacation, yes, I love church. When I'm in primary I can't imagine not being a teacher, actually of late I've been praying they don't release me.  When I'm in Relief Society I can't imagine how I survive Primary each week, I love it all.  Luckily my son does love sunbeams, he's just not so sure about the other hour.

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