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?