Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Easter Squirms

Baby Belle 1 is in the children’s choir at church.  I never cease to be amazed at that fact seeing how I can’t carry a tune across the street.  Scott is quite a good singer, but I sing so poorly that I figured my tone deaf gene would cancel his singing gene out completely.

So, go figure—Baby Belle 1 loves choir.  The catch is that I am now a choir mother.  I did what I could considering that I’m still working when choir practice occurs:  I sent snacks, I stayed for a choir practice here and there but, up until this weekend, I’d managed to stay out of the choir loft during Sunday service.  By way of reference, we parents call the choir loft “the trenches.”

The best (and most honest) excuse for shirking chaperone duty came from another choir mother a couple of months back.  When the choir director approached her and asked if she would assist with the flock during the church service, the gal didn’t miss a beat.  With the most deadpan face and voice you can imagine, she simply said, “I’m out of Xanax,” and then turned around and walked away without another word.  That woman is my hero.

So, leave it to me to lose the Parental Chaperone Lottery on Palm Sunday.  I don’t know about your place of worship, but all services and functions get absurdly long at St. James Episcopal Church when Easter rolls around.  Not only was I going to be stuck in the choir loft overseeing thirteen squirming children, I was going to do it during the second longest service of the year.

Oh yeah, my joy runneth over.  Woo to the hoo.

How did this happen, you ask?  How did a reasonably intelligent individual with a keen survival instinct pull the tour of duty from hell?

Well, boys and belles, I could give you a dozen excuses, but the plain truth of the matter is that I wasn’t fast enough. 

As with all creatures of the wild kingdom, the one who is fastest is the one who avoids getting eaten.  When it comes to choir, parents are supposed to appear with their progeny at the appointed time, sift through the mass of red choir robes in order to find the one with their child’s name, dress the little booger, give said booger a good luck kiss and then turn around and bug out like their ass is on fire so they don’t get pressed into service.  Show, dress and go—it’s a simple formula.

The problem today was that many parents skipped the key protocol:  They showed and go-ed without any dressing in between.  Upon reflection, they were undoubtedly trying to avoid getting stuck with Palm Sunday service.  Buzzards.

Accordingly, I was left with about seven little choir orphans who needed dressing.  By the time I looked up from all of the fast and furious buttoning, the joint was a ghost town except for me and a choir father.  Of course, the choir director started a beeline over to us and before he asked the inevitable question, I sighed with defeat and said, “Yeah, sure.”

The other loser and I handed out the palm fronds for the munchkins to carry and then it was off to the races.  During the beginning of the service, I had a sudden epiphany as to why the children’s choir robes are red:  So you can see the little scamps as they dart all around the church aisles for processional.  We managed to wrangle and rope ‘em in after the walk down the aisle and we all went upstairs to the loft where the real fun began.  

I’m just gonna go ahead and lay it out there:  I’m not a big fan of heights.  I was okay with the choir loft so long as I didn’t have to sit near the edge, but it was clear that I was going to have to suck it up because the kids kept leaning over the railing.  I swear to you that railing was catnip for the little monkeys and the first half of the service consisted of me and choir father pulling the backs of robes to stop them from leaning over the edge. 

The palm fronds were another unexpected problem.  They seem harmless enough when on the trees from which they come or even being put to proper use during Palm Sunday, but leave it to kids.  There were palm frond jousts and tickles.  Several fronds were sent sailing over the railing to rain down on the hapless parishioners.  I could only imagine the reaction down below. 

Then...well, then a kid stuck one up his nose.

He was an adorable little thing who was all of four years old.  He had blond hair and big brown eyes that welled up with years as he came scooting over to me with a foot long plant strand hanging from his nasal passage.  I’ve got to hand it to him, he did good work and he also bore the aftermath quite manfully.  Both of my Baby Belles would have been screaming so loud as to bring down the rafters when I pulled the thing out.  For the rest of the service, he sat there wiping his then runny nose on the sleeve of his robe, refusing to either stand up or sing.

AN HOUR LATER, it was time for Communion, so we lined everyone up and trooped back downstairs.  They were happy for a chance to burn some of their vast energy reserves, so the chance to walk for a minute turned into skipping, giggling and general grab-assing.  I was particularly mortified to witness my Baby Belle 1 jumping up and down on the grave of a bishop who was buried beneath the floor.  Nonetheless, I am happy to report that I didn’t ask for a second gulp of wine when my turn rolled around.

After we made it back upstairs, the poor little things were completely done and I certainly couldn’t blame them seeing as I felt the same way.  For the remainder of the service, Choir Dad and I took the position that, if none of the kids jumped out of the balcony, we’d call it a successful second half. 

By the time the sweet blessed end was in our sights, one girl had taken off her choir robe in protest of the hot and uncomfortable polyester, three of them were rolling around on the floor, two of them were in a tickle fight so far gone that it would have been impossible to stop and the Nasal Horticulturist was sitting in my lap producing massive amounts of snot while my Baby Belle 1 got all teary that I had a child in my lap that was not her, but nobody fell off of the balcony.


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