Friday, November 29, 2013

Raising "Tigger"

Last Sunday I sat in church with my family, quietly debating whether or not to send my son to the nursery.  Our church has special programs for kids on most weekends, but the last one of the month, they call a "Family Sunday" and the kids stay in the main service.  Pastor Steve has often told the congregation that these weeks may be a little noisy, but that we like hearing the noise kids make in church because that means there are kids in our church.  And he really means it.  I know him and I know he means it.  But I also know how loud my little one can be and how hard it is for ME to concentrate with him on my lap.

My oldest two sat at the end of the row, engaged in worship and the sermon.  The youngest, not quite four, was content in his daddy's arms for the entire service.  He sat quietly and wasn't even the littlest bit distracting.  My six and a half year old first grader, though, bounced on my lap the ENTIRE time.  That day his daddy called him "Tigger."  As in "T-I-double grrr-E-R, Tiggers love to bounce!" He kept looking at me with that million dollar smile and asking me to go play in the nursery.

I know the nursery rules.  Heck, I'm the one who made the nursery rules.  It's for kids under three.  On Family Sundays, kids that haven't finished kindergarten yet can go.  Kids older than that are a no-no.  I remember years ago, when I had only my two oldest, who have pretty much always been able to sit quietly when they needed to, when there was a lady who didn't follow the rule.  She had four or five little boys, came to church without her husband, and needed a break.  She dropped them all off in the nursery and I was appalled.  How dare she so blatantly disregard the guidelines I had worked so hard to create?  Now, many years and a bouncy child of my own later, I get it.  And I am so sorry for not reaching out to her with open arms and taking those kids, no matter how old they were, into the nursery with welcome and love.  I remember that I actually sent the oldest back out to sit with her.  It's embarrassing to admit that, shameful, really.  I realize now that she really just needed a little time without the bouncing so that she could focus and worship and praise.  I wish now that I could go to her and apologize.

Nursery workers, children's ministers, school teachers, people behind us in the movie theater and beside us at restaurants and all the rest of you, please give a little grace to mommas who are raising Tiggers.  

It's a hard job.  Stinkin' hard.  It makes you tired in ways you didn't know were possible before.  It makes you wonder about medications and learning styles and if your kid is normal. Tiggers are needier than other kids, at least mine is.  He's the one who really needs me to tuck him into bed each night, after I've given "hugs, kisses, sing us a song and read us a Bible story."  Every single night.  No matter how tired I am.  He's the one who needs me to kiss his ouchies and reassure him.  He's more emotional then his siblings and is quick to laugh or cry.  Total strangers comment on his amazing smile and he makes my world so interesting.  My Tigger keeps me on my toes and brings more to my life than I could have ever imagined.

Last week I didn't send my little Tigger to the nursery.  He sat - no, that's not accurate - he wiggled and bounced and got up and down from my lap about a hundred times during the hour and a half we had service.  He whispered in my ear and he played with my jewelry. He refused to let go of my neck while we were standing up singing, so after the first song, I sat with him on my lap, because standing while holding a slippery, wiggly 60 pound sack of potatoes is nearly impossible.  I have no idea what songs were sung that day (Sorry worship team, I'm sure they were great.) and I only have a vague outline of the sermon but I can still count it as a great day.  Last Sunday, by keeping him with me, I told my little Tigger that he is important enough to be held for the entire service.  That, bouncy as he is, he is still welcome in his momma's arms.  And he will be welcome there for a hundred years and more.