Monday, June 21, 2010

The Sacrament Meeting Circus

First, a few definitions, because I tend to forget that Mormons have their own language.  On Sundays, in a spirit of enforced family togetherness, our worship meetings are three hours long.  (I once heard someone say that there must be something wrong with Mormons because we take three hours to accomplish what everyone else does in one.  Days like yesterday, I tend to agree....)  Our first meeting is called Sacrament Meeting, a one-size-fits-all, pile the whole family (yes, including the crazy toddlers and the squabbling siblings) in the pew of your choice, and try to minimize the chances of your own personal Armageddon erupting in your row so as not to impede the worship of others kind of meeting.

OK, now that everyone is up to speed, I have to tell you about yesterday.  It was one of those meetings that was horrifying as it was happening, but the only thing that kept me from wanting to run away with a paper bag over my head was realizing that it might be funny later.

We started the meeting off well.  Against all odds, the five (and a half) of us arrived at church ten minutes early, all with clean, matching clothes.  I should have taken a picture, because that was the best it was going to get.  As soon as we sat down on our bench, Max escaped, running joyfully down the aisle, the entire congregation laughing at him as he went.  (I still maintain it's only funny when it's not your kid.)  When he paused in his crazy escape, with that look on his face, I knew it was only going to result in one thing: diapers and wipes.

I grabbed them from my husband, and headed to the nearest changing table as fast as possible.  It wasn't until I put Max down on the changing table that I realized that his Pampers had not even come close to their promise of protecting you from leaks, as both my arm and his church pants could now testify.  (Church pants that he had only been wearing for a grand total of 15 minutes, because his first pair had to be retired to the laundry room after a nasty macaroni and cheese incident at lunch time.)  Of course, I had only grabbed the diaper and wipes, so I brought my little boy back into sacrament meeting (which had now started) wearing his shirt, vest, diaper and shoes.  (Which of course resulted in my eight year old exclaiming, "Why is Max naked?" without even attempting to whisper.) Thankfully, I had just restocked the diaper bag, so we had an alternate plan: a pair of jeans.  I've never dressed a kid in sacrament meeting before.  Chalk that one up to experiences I wish to never have again.

All went fairly normally ("Mom, she's touching me!"  "Why can't I sit by Daddy? She sat by Daddy last time!") until the time for the sacrament.  Our congregation has been emphasizing reverence, so it was pretty quiet. Max had been sipping on a water bottle, and chose that quietest moment possible to let out a huge, window-rattling, teenage boys would be jealous belch.  Immediately, every person within a four-bench radius whipped their heads around to see Max, beaming with pride, his giggling sisters and his mortified parents.  It took a few minutes for my face to return to its normal color, and for all the stilfed laughs from those around us to calm down.

After the sacrament crisis, the bag of pretzels got spilled all over, and Max made yet another escape attempt.  Tom chased his this time, and when they came back a few minutes later, Max had green all over his white vest, and gum in his mouth which he promptly spit on the floor.  Tom disavowed any knowledge of either the gum or the green stuff.  I don't believe him.

While the girls were fighting over the colored pencils, we turned just in time to see that Max had managed to open the water bottle and was proceeding to pour it out on the bench and all over himself.  More giggling from the girls ensued, while Tom and I reminded ourselves that screaming out in frustration was probably not the best course of action.  I took Max in my lap while Tom tried to sop up the mess with a few measly kleenexes.  He was screaming and squirming to play in the water he had so kindly dumped out, so I offered him the iPod to play with as a last resort.

It was when he promptly took the iPod and launched it into the head of the four year old boy in front of us, making him burst into tears, that I declared that sacrament meeting was over for us and we spent the rest of the time in the hall, wondering who thought church with an 18 month old boy was a good idea in the first place.

Please, good readers, make me feel better.  Tell me I'm not the only one whose family erupts into chaos the minute we step into church!  Someone out there has to have an embarassing church story, right?  Right?  Please?  Someone?


  1. I have WAY too many. Like my 2-year-old lobbing a Friend magazine at my 5-year-old with the result of scratching his cornea, drawing blood, and him screaming at the top of his lungs while we escorted him out. Or the time that my then 5-year-old decided to draw graphic pictures and then describe them in a loud voice to his brother while the two teenage girls behind us couldn't control their laughter. Okay, actually, that was a picture of a cow with udders, but my boys decided to use another word for those udders.

    There are so many more, and then there's all the times I have to do it alone because my husband works Sundays. And with the reverence thing, nothing works. Seriously. All my parents had to do was give me a look and I was afraid to even move at all, I have no idea how they did it.

  2. I forgot to mention the time that my 2-year-old reached for the water tray and knocked it out of my husband's hand and it went flying into the woman's head who was sitting in front of us, drenching her. Now they don't sit near us.

  3. Pretty much every Sunday is bad for us.

  4. When my youngest was Max's age, he would routinely chuck toys at random people. And this kid can throw -- he has some sort of genious sports talent. He would hit a person square in the head every. single. time. I finally made some soft crochet balls as church toys, so at least they wouldn't hurt when he threw them.

    Also, when we had our little foster boy, it was like having twins at some times. All 5 of us came in to church, took our coats off and hung them up. The oldest declared he needed to potty, so I handed foster son to my hubby and our youngest started to follow hubby into sacrament meeting. When we rejoined the family at the pew, hubby and foster son were sitting there, but no Little Z! The meeting was just starting, so I asked hubby in a panicked whisper, "Where's Z??" He looked at me and down the aisle, "He isn't with YOU?" The people around us were stifling laughs as hubby darted out of the chapel in search of Little Z. Luckily, he has only decided to take a stroll down the hallways, and not outside. Good times, I tell you.

    I still think your day beats any I've had, but I can certainly sympathize!

  5. I mostly just hate the fighting in the pew, and that my husband telling my kids to be quiet is pretty loud himself. :)

  6. *snort* I'd love to tell you that someday you'll miss that, but I'd be SO LYING. Good thing you had a pair of jeans, because the time my kid had to go pantsless in Sacrament meeting, they totally read that scripture about not suffering your children to go hungry or naked. Yep. Good times.

  7. It was a day very much like that one that caused me to say enough is enough and never bring another snack or coloring book to church again. The difference has been amazing, although it certainly wouldn't promise to stop any diaper leakage. :)

  8. My son asked me (loudly) during sacrament a couple weeks ago what that short stubbly stuff was on my legs. Then ended up at church the next week with stained, button missing shirt and hand-me-down tennis shoes without socks. Then there was the kid who deskirted me in the foyer of church a few years back. I should just start wearing a paper sack over my head.

  9. I wrote a blog post about this when I first started blogging. "Sunday Shenanigans" I think every chapel should have a quiet room in the back and straight jackets and muzzles for some of my kids would have been nice...

  10. Oh... those days. I remember them well. LOL Charlotte's comment!

    Remember, it will get better someday, and you will actually just sit and listen and relax.

  11. Tons of Sundays like that in our past. I emphasize past. My youngest is almost twelve now and it's much better. Not that they listen or quit trying to talk to me while I'm trying to listen but they sit relatively still, don't dump water, and don't throw anything.

    There is hope. Hang in there.

  12. Our worst/funniest episode was Dallin pulling the fire alarm in the middle of sacrament meeting, resulting in the entire congregation being evacuated. That was only our second week in that ward.

    But some other family in our stake apparently got to top that one. The counselor in our stake presidency died of cancer a few weeks ago--he was young, and it's been a big thing in our stake, and apparently at the funeral (I wasn't there, but heard about it) a child pulled the fire alarm during the closing hymn as they were preparing to take the casket out. I would have felt SOOOOO horrible if that was my child!

  13. Honestly, this is why I love the overflow. With 3 boys age 4 and under, sacrament would be a total nightmare if we weren't in the back with a quick escape plan.

    One week the new bishop decided it would be better for the ward family if we all sat close by one another, and he didn't let them open the overflow.

    So, we sat in the second row. Less than 10 feet from said bishop. He is a good, kind man, and I could see the laughter sparkling behind his eyes as we struggled, so I know that he's "been there" and really understood that we were doing the best we could, but it was a mess. Noise, drinks, messes, squabbles, heads bonking on immovable pews (they are accustomed to more flexible chairs) and "singing" along with the hymns.

    The next week, the overflow was open.

  14. I loved reading this story (and all the comments), because it's so nice to know I'm not alone. And actually, my Sacrament meetings have been pretty mellow compared to all of yours!

  15. I only have two kids, you should know that first.
    A while back, when my daughter was just a wee one in a car seat, I sat in sacrament meeting and listened to a talk on reverence given by a woman I would most definitely want to be like. I felt like she was talking to ME personally, though she was not. She touched on many aspects of reverence and she referenced an essay by Orson Scott Card called "Does Civilization Begin in Sacrament Meeting". I would encourage you to read this essay - actually anyone having a hard time controlling the chaos. It is eye opening. I have implemented many of his strategies and our sacrament experience, though not perfect, is miles beyond what it used to be. Seriously, read it.
    Good luck!

  16. During one sacrament long ago I was MONDO pregnant. A 5 year old girl we were sitting next to screamed that I had a baby in my belly to any and all that would listen. Of course it being sacrament everyone heard her. She continued to comment loudly during most of sacrament about my pregnant state. It was pretty hilarious. But that is only because I wasn't her mother who was desperately trying to distract her daughter.

  17. Hi, I'm Jodi. Allow me to re-introduce myself and remind you of my three children. Enough said.

  18. Yup, sounds pretty normal if you ask me.
    If its not normal than I'm in trouble and I'll join the paper bag club.

  19. Hmm, probably our worst was the time my 1 year old suddenly started puking all over. Me, dad, himself, the bench, the wall, the floor. Yeah, that was pretty bad.
    My 2 year old loves to escape and run screaming up and down the isles. Or even better, scramble under all the benches so he can catch everyone by surprise and we can't get to him.


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