If I were to ask you to describe the conditions that would create the perfect storm of sacrament meeting disruption, you'd probably come up with some (or all) of the following suggestions:
- a new walker (that is, a child who is new to walking, not a new assistive device) eager to show off
- an un-corralled pew (that is, a pew not surrounded on all sides by other pews, such as the front row) to taunt the new walker with walkable open space
- fellow worshipers with smiles and treats eager to lure the new walker away
- a cane (the assistive device kind) placed seductively on the floor in clear view of the new walker
- a high pitched baby squeal with every triumphant new walker step
- loud complaints from a pre-schooler about the new walker having too much fun
Our choice of seats (front row of chairs in the gym) was unfortunate. We realized that about four notes in to the opening hymn. Without pews to fence us in, Grace was a menace. I know it's par for the fourteen-month-old course, but trying to hold Grace on your lap when she has exploration in mind is like trying to kiss a shrieking eel. It's loud and messy, and you might end up with a bloody lip. Beware the mighty headbutt!
Still, I decided that moving the whole family after the meeting had already started would be too disruptive. And so we tried to contain our little tornado-in-a-dress where we were. I wasn't even particularly self-conscious about the first couple sprints up the aisle to catch her. Our ward's used to that kind of thing. We've all been there. And I could understand Grace's interest in Bro. Jones' cane. A big ole' stick, twice your height, just lying there on the floor? What self-respecting toddler would pass that up? How else would you find out what happens when you swing it around? (Answer: people gasp and rush to your side! Yay!)
But when Sam dropped his Barrel of Monkeys Keychain, which he'd filled (without my knowledge) with the steel balls from his Magnetix set, we crossed the line from amusing diversion to full-fledged meteorological disturbance. The worst part was the ward members jumping to our aid to crawl on the dirty floor and collect steel marbles. "Just leave them," I said. "I don't care if we lose them." But within 60 seconds, I had them all back.
I did not return the balls to Sam, much to his (loudly announced) disappointment.
On the bright side, since both children got all of their shrieks and wiggles out during church, they were perfectly cooperative for a post-church photo shoot. As you can see below.