Monday, August 12, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Vacation Bible School

Oughta be Hang-out-for-a-week-with-a-million-children-doing-crafts-and-singing-a-lot-of-songs-about-Jesus, but I guess that doesn't really fit on a t-shirt.

So, I am lurking in the back of the church, straining to hear St. Paul (a tall 8th grade boy in a tunic and fake beard) explain something about patient love, over the howls of the 5 toddlers that are racing each other around me; it looks uncomfortably like some pagan rite conducted by face-painted, war-whooping Celts. (An hour ago, they got into some markers.) The lucky nursery volunteers are cooing to babies and snuggling little ones giving in to their naps. Since I am nice (or more likely insane), I agreed to take on the older members of our tribe for this closing ceremony of Vacation Bible School; after all, 2 of them are mine. I can see the other volunteers smirking from here.

It has been one heck of a week and my superpowers are at an all time low. It is summer and being somewhere at 8:45am (dressed!) is a little beyond me on a good day. But I do it for a whole week, and we even walk to church most days, making me feel very virtuous and mother-earthy. I don't exactly retain that feeling through a morning of dealing with 15 children under the age of 3; one of whom is always crying. I am convinced they take shifts. Of course, dealing with the little children is nothing compared to dealing with the big ones. A dozen 13-15-year-old-girl volunteers. Oy. Around noon, I am cried and gossiped out and just want to go home and collapse on the couch, letting Netflix parent for me while I take a nap. But then there is the virtuous and mother-earthy walk home, with whichever friend that Super Preschooler has conned into coming over for a playdate. No slothful Netflix afternoons this week; I even think I allow playdough one day. Shudder.

Super Fetus is pretty nice for the most part, but Thursday he/she kicks up such a fuss that I spend most of the morning hugging a toilet in the grade school bathroom, explaining to anyone who comes in that, "No, I don't have the flu; I am just pregnant." Most moms are sweet, most of the teenagers skeptical and full of "I-know-you-are-really-hung-over" winks, and most of the little girls flat out don't believe me. "You don't have a belly. You aren't pregnant." Awkward Dad has to come during lunch to take me, the Supers, and Super Preschooler's playdate guest home. I sleep the rest of the day, and Awkward Dad blows off a lecture he didn't want to go to anyway. Why every afternoon this week can't be like that is beyond me.

Here we are on Friday; the joyous and spiritually enriching conclusion to Vacation Bible School, which I realized far too late was not, in fact, a vacation. I halfheartedly shush the rampaging toddler-Celts, when I catch the eye of one of my two fellow adult nursery volunteers. They are very lovely, very sweet women, who are clearly gifted in many areas, just not the humor or tolerance-for-loud-and-screaming-children-in-church areas. (Side note: all my jokes this week bomb with them, it is quite disappointing and leads me to question my standard form of adult interaction, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Not every encounter calls for a movie quote or a pun.)They each beatifically cradle a baby and more than a little resemble the portrait of Mary that is hanging to the left of them. I don't want to know what saint I most resemble right now, but I would lay odds that it is one of the hermit/eating bugs in the wilderness ones. I try to scoop Super Baby up in an attempt to appear more holy and put together, but she kicks me and lets out a banshee cry that has 1/3 of the church spinning around, despite the sound-proof glass separating us here in the vestibule. I sigh, but put her down to continue her antics unmolested.

I can't focus on the song everyone is singing about peace. First of all, the toddlers have located the water fountain, and, inexplicably, it appears that one of them is tall enough to operate it. And secondly, I know for a fact that Super Preschooler, somewhere up there in the front of an undulating mass of enthusiastic blue-shirted children and volunteers cheerfully praising Jesus, is sorta doing the arm movements, while brazenly refusing to sing. It's what he did last year, and I see no reason why his nonconformist ways should have altered too much since then. Now, his teacher this year seems way more relaxed than last year's, so hopefully, I am not in for a lecture about how my son is "clearly very unhappy," "not good at participation,"  and "might benefit from some therapy." Hopefully. I have my "he just gets embarrassed singing in public" speech ready, just in case.

Why does Super Preschooler have to be so gosh-darn stubborn? Just once I would like to have the joiner- child, the unquestioning-child, the happy-just-to-be-here-child. The one who doesn't get in trouble for talking. The one who doesn't announce that "church is boring" with a sigh loud enough to be heard on the alter. The sweet one. The well-behaved one. That elusive angel child. The child eager to please. The just-sing-the-silly-song-for-pete's-sake child. Enough of this being your own unique flower nonsense; I want Super Preschooler to just fit in already!

Except I totally don't. And as I stand there, thinking "Why isn't this over already? And why do all Lite Christian Rock songs sound the same?" I am painfully aware of where some of his bold awkwardness comes from and why it might be so hard for him to just be a joiner. I want to join sometimes. I want to just fit in with my fellow nursery volunteers; snuggle babies, talk about organic blueberries, and discuss the intricacies of potty training. And then, I promptly want to vomit. Which could just be first trimester talking, but I kinda doubt it. I don't really want to fit it, I just want to be accepted as I am. I am fairly sure those are 2 separate things, and I am also fairly sure it is probably the goal of anyone living in a society.

I ponder this as I watch Super Toddler carefully carry water from the water fountain to the holy water font and dump it in. As I watch Super Baby happily carry on a conversation with a stained glass St. Francis. As I scan the crowd of bobbing and nodding heads for the one tiny blond still one that is staring out the window, watching the dust motes dance in the sunbeams. So delightfully, so maddeningly, unique. Flowers as rare and unusual as swamp-dwelling orchids in a sea of beautiful roses and adorable daisies. Is this gonna cause problems? Bumps on their long journey to adulthood? Some rather uncomfortable parent-teacher conferences? You betcha. And every awful, awkward, eventually adolescent moment will be totally worth it, in order to see the utterly gorgeous, stunningly self-assured, wonderfully compassionate, swamp-orchid adults that they become. This fourth one too; the one stirring within me, making me want to hurl into the offering basket in the corner. I wanna live long enough to see all four of them being so totally them, merrily dancing to their own beat. Even if that beat turns out to be bland Lite-Christian-Rock. So, that is what I ask for in the back of the church vestibule, surrounded by romping children and glaring moms. Somehow, I think God hears me despite the noise. And somehow, I think He approves.

I know. I know. It isn't a baseball game post penned by Awkward Dad. I am working on him, but last time he was pestered, he just said, "Well, if you are in that much of a rush, you can write it yourself." Not wanting to subject you guys to that, I suppose we will just have to wait. No matter; there is always much awkwardness to be had and regale you with! Stay tuned! 

Not being a joiner, and fairly bad at participation too, 
I have no picture from Vacation Bible School. 
So, instead, here is a picture of Super Baby, being her rebel self. 
It is kinda holy.
You know; in "Holy Cats, could she be any cuter?!" way.


  1. When i was a kid, i was the loudest singer kid. During one of our childrens choir performances, some older kids were laughing and pointing at me. From that point onward, I would never sing alone in front of people or louder than anyone else. It took a lot of wine and a trip to karaoke to remember how much fun it is to sing at the top of my lungs. Good for the whole super family for holding their own against vacation bible school. - Catherine

    1. Sing it, Catherine! Sing it! :)

  2. Wait, wait, how did I miss Super Fetus??? Congratulations, girl!!!

    1. Duh, the big announcement was in a previous post!! :)

    2. He/she is easy to miss right now; barely the size of a small fruit. :)