Last Sunday, Jame and I went to church together. Yes, Jame. This is how he refers to himself. When he sees himself in the mirror he says excitedly, "JAME!" No 's'. I love it. It's an improvement from the "Beans" or "Baynes" he used to call himself. Not sure why he's dropped the 's' at the end, but whatever. Toddlerspeak is hilarious, so I say carry on Jame.
We haven't been to church in a whiiiiiile. The whole family wasn't coordinated enough to go together, so Reese and Scott stayed home. We were slightly early (1-2 minutes, that's crazy early for me), so we parked in the satellite parking lot and road the shuttle bus over. You would have thought that riding the bus was the sole reason we were there that day. Jame absolutely LOVED.IT. He kept saying BUS! BUS! BUS! I should have just let him ride the shuttle by himself continuously while I was at church...
When we got into the building and headed toward his classroom, he started clinging a little more tightly to my arm. As we stood in line to drop him off, his bottom lip started to protrude markedly. When I placed him on the floor on the classroom-side of the gate (yes, 2 year old classrooms require gates), the tears and wailing began. I left really, really quickly, so as not to draw out the painful process for him.
Off to church I went by myself. I don't know if you consider going to church by yourself an outing, but it totally is. I certainly would have preferred Scott and Reese to be there as well, (Reese in her own classroom), but that wasn't possible that morning. So I had my own fun little by-myself-surrounded-by-a-whooooole-lotta-people outing.
If you've ever taken a kid to church and dropped them off, you've probably received some sort of claim ticket for them. Because, apparently, they want you and only you to pick them up after the service. Weird. Can't I come back in a few days?? This particular morning I looked down at my sticker which says "Betty Davidson" (don't even get me started about people calling me "Betty") and my kid's number/letter combo: ZB4. My cousin Jon wrote about this tagging of children at church idea. He calls it playing "bad kid lottery" as you go through church hoping your kid's number doesn't appear on the screen.
I felt pretty confident Jame would do well in his class that morning. I felt so confident I sat in the smackdabmiddle of a row. Two-thirds of the way through the service, the bad kid lottery screen lights up. Imagine a scrolling, red, marquee kind of sign. That's what it looks like. First up, some early elementary school kid's number. *Phew* The next classroom name to scroll across says "2 yr olds"...................ZB4.
I just won the bad kid lottery. I quickly got up, and started making my way out of the row. The people were kind and understanding as I tried not to step on their toes. Off to the 2 year old classroom I went.
I can hear him before I get to the door of the classroom. He is beside himself with grief over being left in that den of wolves to be eaten by those other 2 year olds. Even holding his beloved giraffe "bankit" isn't helping calm him. The sweet teacher passes him to me over the gate and encourages me to bring him again. What a kind lady. In her shoes, I would have said "We don't take criers."
The MOMENT he is in my arms, he stops crying and smiles. I hugged him tightly and told him he was going to make it. I promised. Together we headed upstairs to the "Family Chapel" (where you can take kids of any age and they can be loud if they want to) for the remainder of the service. He sat pretty happily on my lap for the last 15-20 minutes. I just sat there squeezing on him and lovin' on him.
Although I would have preferred he make it the whole service in his class so I could have an uninterrupted church experience, I was grateful for this sweet time with him. He's not a cuddly kinda guy. He doesn't spend much time just hanging out in my lap. From what everyone tells me, I'm going to blink my eyes and he'll be 30, so I better enjoy these rare moments.
I know parenthood can teach a person all kinds of things about how God loves us unconditionally. I felt like this experience was one of those learning moments for me. I saw a glimpse of how much God must love me as my Heavenly Father. When I am beside myself with grief over something that probably shouldn't cause me as much grief as it is causing, all God has to do is just show up, arms open wide. Suddenly, instantly, my fears are eased, the tears stop. I feel loved, cared for, assured.