Development milestones comes with their own difficulties. When Eva learned to grasp objects, she thought that daddy’s face was a great place to use this skill. When she learned to crawl, she found every cord that was reachable. Now that she can pull herself up on things, she’s clearing shelves that we hadn’t even considered.
Right now, Eva is aware. Before it was in a limited scope. When she was first born she was aware that there were lights and noise, but not much else. Then she became aware of the things around her. Gradually she is becoming aware of things that are not around her, such as when mommy leaves. Most of all, she’s aware of the awesome things she could be doing now, if it wasn’t for you.
I posted a PSA about the diaper change. Getting a diaper changed is not a way of removing a full diaper and replacing it with a clean and comfortable one, but is in fact an attack on her personal freedom to explore and play for those five minutes. The thing is, that’s only five minutes. What if you take her to a place where she’s not free to roam for a full hour? How does she react to that situation?
When we go to church on Sundays, we usually go with two things in mind. First, though our attention may be diverted by Eva, 50% of church is still better than no church. Second, that Eva will never learn how to go to church, how to sit through church unless she goes to church and sits through church.
Now, we’re not crazy (debatable). We don’t expect a ten month old to sit through church, but through going we hope that she gradually picks up the cues set by us and other congregants. Except, of course, the lack of smiling.
Eva is so into life right now. She wants to explore every crevice, every shelf, every object that she can find. She wants to make new friends, crawl around the room, and speak of her joy to all. Then here comes dad who puts her on his knee and tells her to be quiet because the robed man up front has his hands crossed, to stay put so as to not bother the family next to us with their eyes closed, and to keep quiet so the person three rows away is not bothered.
A flow chart of Eva’s actions
So now we play the role of defensive coordinator, playing prevent defense. Prevent her from tearing the pages from the hymnal, prevent her from crawling underneath the pews, prevent her from talking during the Lord’s Prayer. We keep changing the situation, moving her from one leg to other, passing her between each other or sitting her in the pew. All in hopes that she resets that flow chart. She does reset, but each time she gets faster and faster on moving through each element. Church becomes an hour long stressful battle.
The battle is external with Eva, but internal with ourselves. What responsibility do we have to Eva and her growth, what responsibility do we have to our fellow church goers and at what point does one outweigh the other? Is this all worth getting 50% of the service? The last couple of weeks you could ratchet that percentage down to 10-25%.
Things probably aren’t as bad as they seem. While we may be getting only 10-25% of the service, the rest of the time is filled with valuable teaching time. Things were probably a bit worse the past couple of weeks because Eva has an ear infection which has affected her sleep schedule, and thus her ability to cope with disappointment.
We’re new parents, so we’re still working all out. Toys worked for a while, until she either got bored with them or wanted to find out how far she could throw them. Snacks work only in small increments, but not every time either. A pacifier works at minimizing the small talk, but does not stop (and perhaps enhances) the loud exclamations.
So we march forward. We’ll try something new next time while waiting for that next developmental stage and its blessings/challenges.