Now Babykins Does Better in ChurchPosted: November 24, 2015
Babykins is a toddler. She does toddler things like move constantly, yell at random times, and destroy things. She does not stop being a toddler when we go to church. Consequently, Sunday mornings can often feel like an exercise in futility as I try to keep her quiet and still during the church service.
However, the last few weeks Babykins has started to surprise me with her behavior in church. She’s gotten a little less loud and a little more interested in watching what is happening the service. So what changed?
1. Sitting up front: Despite past failures, we gave sitting up front another try. I realized that a lot of her antics were attempts to see people and things better (this wasn’t always the reason for her squirming in the past). Plus, we were getting blinded by the morning sun beating through the stained glass window in our pew in the back. So, despite my solid Lutheran upbringing to avoid the front at all costs, Babykins and I now troop up to the second pew on Sunday mornings. She still does toddler activities like yell at random times, walk on the pew, and toss her toys in the pew behind us. Likewise, she still freaks out sometimes because she wants to go to her dad, but we’re learning to deal with that.
2. Letting go of Babywearing: I finally gave up on the ring sling in church. Babykins was making it clear to everyone that she was not happy being confined and the sling wasn’t making it any easier to hold her with all her thrashing around. Some people are able to wear their children in church throughout the toddler years, I am not one of them.
3. More interest in books: Babykins has developed a love for books in recent weeks. This means that she’ll actually look at a book during the sermon, cutting back on her chatter and wiggles. My favorite book to bring with us is My Church Words Book. This book is printed by Concordia Publishing House, which means that many of the pictures inside are from LC-MS churches. This makes it easier to connect what is happening in the service to the pictures in the book. It’s fun to point to the pictures of things like the hymnal and pew Bible in the book and then point to the actual hymnal and pew Bible.
4. Practicing with a hymnal at home: A couple of weeks ago I was attempting to play some hymns on our piano. It didn’t go very well since Babykins is very insistent that she plays the piano with me. However, during this time I wound up letting her look at my hymnal on the floor. She surprised me with her gentleness with it! No torn pages, very few crinkled corners. Consequently, I decided to let her have a hymnal during church. For the last couple of weeks, she has contentedly flipped through the hymnal throughout the service. She’s not always perfectly gentle with it–I’m seeing a hymnal donation to the church in a couple of years–but she stays quiet!
I’m not expecting Babykins to keep up this behavior indefinitely. Babies and toddlers grow too quickly for any routine to stay around too long. What has worked for us the last couple of weeks may very well not work this coming Sunday. But for now, I’ll enjoy another sweet spot of Sunday mornings.