When a two-year-old is antsy and curious, parents squirm. Especially when it’s the day of the younger brother’s baptism and the entire family is in the pews, the church is full, and you have imagined this moment as perfect. Mom’s arms are full with a newborn, and Dad is wrangling two other preschoolers.
As parents, most of us have been there. We try to summon superpowers so that the glare from our eyes will magically curtail the exploration. We marvel at the superpowers of our children who can suddenly make their bodies completely limp and boneless when we try to pull them off the floor, out from under the pews, and in from the aisles. We wither a bit inside as our children choose this day, this moment, to explore, to fuss, to wander.
But here’s the thing: They’re kids. And this is their church too.
I’ve been to churches and with parishioners who still espouse the philosophy of children as seen but not heard. I remember the chiding from a fellow congregant when my children were little. I was feeding my 10-week-old, and our three-year-old wiggled out of the seat and to her father, who was preaching. He scooped her up and continued. After the service, the parishioner told me I needed to control my child and heaped on other digs about my poor parenting. My hurt and indignation burn a decade later.