I went to a Christmas program at a local church this past Friday night with all five of my children. My wife did not go. She was at some fancy-schmancy banquet with her sister. Me? I decided that it would be fun to wrestle my two-year old for an hour while trying to keep my three boys from causing us to get tossed out of the building by one of the bouncers. Okay, some people might call the elderly folks who directed us to our seats ushers. I call them bouncers. Ever make one of them mad? It’s not pretty. The damage that they can cause to the human body just by using a bulletin and a visitor card is catastrophic.
The Christmas program was nice. Good music, good singing, good message. Even my kids behaved. The only problem I had with the whole experience was restroom related.
Whenever I go anywhere by myself with my children, I have a motto that you may have heard: No Child Left Behind. This has been drilled into my head by my wife who apparently thinks that when I take the kids anywhere I automatically turn into an idiot incapable of keeping up with children. “Don’t lose anybody,” is the most common way that she conveys this sentiment. “Yes, ma’am,” is my most common reply. I want to come back at her with a sarcastic comment or a joke, but I value having fully functioning organs far too highly for that.
Not leaving any child behind is difficult when going to the restroom. We all have to go together. I don’t make my 9-year-old daughter go into the men’s restroom, that would be weird. But she does have to be in the general vicinity. My three sons, ages six and seven, have to go in with me because taking them to the restroom is the only reason I ever go into a public restroom in the first place. And of course my two-year-old has to go in with me as well because she is two and two-year olds can’t be trusted.
Upon entering the church building, I asked one of the ushers/bouncers where the restrooms were located. He told me that I would have to go to through the side door at the front of the sanctuary. I laughed. Right in his face. I didn’t mean to, it was just my natural reaction. Expecting me to take 5 kids out of the sanctuary in the middle of a Christmas program through a door in the front of the sanctuary is crazy talk. I would rather let them soil themselves than try to pull off that maneuver. That’s a black-belt parenting move and I’m just now working on my blue belt.
As we sat down near the back of the sanctuary and took our jackets off, I prayed a silent prayer that we wouldn’t have to go to the restroom. That’s when it happened. I smelled the familiar smell of a poopy diaper at the exact moment all of my other children looked at me and said “I have to go pee.” They said it at the same time in perfect four-part harmony. It was like a bad Christmas miracle. And I didn’t have the diaper bag. It was in the car.
As I stood to head outside with Mary Hope in my arms, I whispered to the other children to stay close. We headed outside to retrieve the appropriate baby changing tools only to find that the wipes were missing which meant I was going to have to change her the hard way–with wet paper towels. We walked around the outside of the church building and found a side door near the restrooms. I sent Noelle into the women’s restroom and the rest of us entered the men’s restroom which was roughly the size of a shoebox. There was no baby changing table. Have you wondered what it would be like to change a baby’s diaper without baby wipes in a room smaller than a desk drawer without a baby changing table? I’ve got an answer–messy.
After cleaning her up, cleaning me up, finally getting all of the boys to wash their with soap, and meeting back up with Noelle, we headed back outside and around to the front doors of the church building. The ushers/bouncers eyed us suspiciously upon re-entering, but they didn’t say anything to us. Probably out of pity.
A few minutes after we returned to our pew, the program started. Like I said, the kids behaved fairly well. I think it was because they were exhausted. I know that I was. But as I sat there and watched them looking at the lights and listening to the music with smiles on their faces, I knew that it was all worth it.
The benefit of building memories far outweighs the aggravations that it might cause. Plus, I didn’t leave anyone behind.
It was a good night.
(How do you build memories with your kids? What are some of you Christmas traditions? Tell us about them!)