Today we went to church and there were six babies that needed to be baptized.
We are used to a lot of crying on baptismal Sundays, mostly from parishioners because the service lasts so much longer, but this morning there was one very distraught 7 or 8 month-old baby with a high, raspy cry that had all the kids cupping their hands over their ears.
This baby would not stop crying. Most mothers would have the good sense to get up and take the child out of there, but for some reason his mother just kept trying frantically to make him stop by bouncing him harder or shifting him from one arm to another.
Any mother of a crier can tell you this will not work. A crier wants you to GET UP… NOW!!! A crier wants a boob, and if that’s not handy, a Binkie…and MAKE IT SNAPPY! A crier wants to be entertained – he wants to be facing forward so he can see the world and he wants you to spend every second telling him how exciting it is. “Ooo, ooo, see the pretty statue! Oooo, ooo, see the little girl in the pink dress, isn’t she pretty? Oooo, ooo, see the drool stain on mommy’s shirt? I wonder where that drool stain came from – did you make that drool stain? I think you did. Yes you did. I’m going to GET you. I’m going to tickle you right behind the knee for making that drool stain, yes I am,” and so forth. These are the tools mothers of criers turn to when their babies are annoying the public. It may require 100% of your attention, but at least everybody won’t be staring at you and wondering why you are pinching that baby or shouldn’t you be rushing him to the emergency room.
The whole congregation was staring at this mother who (1) did not have a Binkie, (2) kept turning the child toward her even when it was twisting around to see something besides the same old one foot square of her shirt, and (3) was not whispering and distracting the child from his crying fit. I wanted to go knock the woman down and yank the baby up and soothe him, but that seemed un-Christian.
Even the priest stopped talking and made a joke. He had just started his sermon and he must have realized no one was paying any attention to him even though he was practically shouting into the microphone trying to be heard. About two minutes into the sermon he tried to make a joke, “Well, I see somebody’s trying to tell me this sermon has gone on long enough.” We all laughed but the woman didn’t get the hint. Then he stopped again a couple of minutes later, and said, “I should have made this sermon short enough to post on Twitter.” Again we laughed, and the mom finally got up, which made the baby happy and the church got quiet enough so that I could notice the ringing in my ears. Between the bellowing baby and the shouting priest, it was worse than being at a rock concert.
I knew the quiet was temporary. My son had colic, and colicky, crying babies need continuous, entertaining distraction if you want to keep them quiet. This woman didn’t know anything about any of that.
Sure enough, the bellowing started again, and didn’t stop when they called the parents up for the baptisms midway through the service. A video guy positioned his camera on a ladder over to the side so that everyone in the packed church could see the babies on the big screen above the altar while they were getting dunked into the baptismal font.
The first parents handed their naked infant to the priest so he could lower the baby into the water in the baptismal font. I’ve never liked this naked baby thing, especially when they could be wearing those little swim diapers. A naked baby is just a loaded water pistol ready to be fired, not to mention that nudity seems incongruous in a church, even if it’s a baby. Call me a prude, this is how I feel.
The cameraman zoomed in on the babies, and from his angle, the babies’ privates were at the forefront of the picture, with their faces receding in the background. Every parent of a baby boy knows that for some reason their privates are way out of proportion to the child’s size. If the baby boy weighs 15 pounds, 10 of that is his privates. From the camera angle, and on the big screen, they looked even bigger.
One baby was a spreader, and if I’d been a doctor I could have done a visual colonoscopy. Baby cheeks might be cute, but a gaping baby poo-poo on the big screen is another story.
I started thinking of the family all gathered around years later, watching this video with the grandparents and little brothers and sisters and maybe even the guy’s girlfriend, who insists she wants to see what he looked like as a baby. Then he’s up there on a 60” HD 3D TV with those giant testicles filling the whole screen, and his girlfriend shouts out, “Oh my gosh, what HAPPENED to you? You were bigger as a baby than you are now!” Everyone will hear her because they’ve got the sound turned down due to the screamer. It will cause a scandal. Grammy and Grampy will know the teenagers are sleeping together, which could be all it takes to give one or both of them a stroke. The poor kid with melons for testicles will be marred for life because he’ll forever have his girlfriend’s voice in his head reminding him what a shrimp he’s become in his manhood department. It may be THE defining moment in his entire life. All because of some silly tradition at our church that says babies need to be baptized in the buff.
Back to the story. After they were baptized, the babies were dressed in their cute little white baptismal gowns and were presented to the church, which takes a lot of praying and blessings and welcoming from the congregation. Through it all, the crier never let up. The dad tried to stop him, the mother tried, the Godparents tried, but handing him around did nothing. Finally his grandmother ran up on the altar and snatched the child from his mother. He shut up immediately. She gave him a hair barrett, which he immediately put in his mouth to gnaw on, and that was all the entertainment he needed. The grandmother never turned him loose, even when they all went back to the pew. After communion I noticed he’d fallen asleep in her arms.
Well, this story has taken a lot of time, but it needed to be told in the hopes that if you’re a mother of a screamer, you’ll take that child outside and stop tormenting us. Better still, learn the tricks of dealing with criers. And always keep a grandmother close by in case of emergency.
Oh, and do your child a favor – destroy those naked baby baptismal videos. Oooo, ooo, I just got a great idea. Hold on to them and use them to blackmail your child. I bet you could get him to clean his room, mow the grass, AND get all A’s if you threaten to show it to his girlfriend. Doggone it – why didn’t I think of that?