So I’ve written in the past about the challenge of bringing a child who is eleven months old to church and trying to stay sane. She brings so much energy with her, and it takes all my efforts to keep her entertained throughout. I rely on my bag of tricks to help, and by that I mean our diaper bag with toys and puffs.
This past Sunday I tried a new strategy. No bag at all. Just me. You may think I’m crazy, but I’m not. I’m absent minded. See, Steph left early to practice with the choir, so we came a little later. Only, I forgot to grab the bag.
It was raining that morning, so I was concerned about having an umbrella in the car, and a coffee in my cup holder to prevent eye lid contraction. I completely forgot the bag.
“At least you remembered the umbrella, how’d that work out?”
“I opened it up when I arrived and a half dozen metal pieces came flying out, making it impossible to open all the way.”
“So Eva and I had to run through the rain, while hundreds (if not thousands) of people pointed at me and said ‘Who is this dad that does not have a umbrella to protect his child and has no bag with a change of clothes for her!’ While I didn’t see it or hear it, I’m sure it happened.”
We sit down and decloak from our wet coats. Eva drifts into her “New Place Coma”. In the flow chart, or in sitting, she must evaluate her new situation. Who’s here? What things are there? Where can I crawl to? All these things are evaluated while she sits in her coma. Then, the fidgeting starts. Will we make it?
There are two ways of keeping Eva quiet throughout a service. One, play with something. Two, “New Place Coma”. Crawling is mostly out, so this has to be done inside the pew. So, for entertainment we had two things. A hymnal and a hair band. The hymnal was quite entertaining, though lacking in pictures and fun words like “Peek a Zoo”.
The coma though is still the prefered method. While evaluating the situation, she may in fact be absorbing things such as words and learning how others act in church. There’s also less defense on my part, AKA keep Eva from bending, ripping or slobbering on the hymnal.
So the trick is to get Eva into that new place to restart the coma. We arrive and sit. We stand. We kneel. Sometimes she sits on my knee, other times on the pew itself, or maybe on the floor. When mommy comes back, she jumps over there and back again. All new situations, all requiring evaluations (although by the end of service that evaluation time is near nil).
So, it is theoretically possible to make it through service without a bag of tricks. I just don’t recommend it.