Big Church, Big Girl

Categories:Preschool Years

Yesterday we attended Hebron Baptist Church to hear Chris Reeder preach (He did a great job, by the way). And both of my girls have always been “slow to warm up” in new situations, especially when it involves being left in the care of new people, so my Chris and I planned (with great fear and trembling) to keep them in big church with us. We pledged promises of reward (“You can pick out something from Target this afternoon if you’re good”) and punishment (“If I have to take you out of the service, you will not get a new toy, and you will get a spanking”). I know, I know, that’s not effective parenting. I agree, but I was desperate. Now I knew Carson would be fine, she’s been to big church before and that girl would’ve held her breath and stood on her head the whole service if there was a reward involved (I know, I know, external rewards decrease intrinsic motivation). “Momma, I’m not gone take my coloring book and crayons in because I’m gonna try and listen,” she says as we’re getting out of the car. Yes, we came well-stocked with a coloring book, a notebook, and a pack of crayons for each child. And, yes, I insisted she carry her items in, just in case…

Campbell, on the other hand, had me shaking in my boots. This was her debut appearance in big church, and I had little to no hope that this was going to go well. In fact, in her three years of life, I have had no indication that she knows how to be quiet or even whisper (I mean really whisper not the exaggerated whisper of a toddler that is really loud in reality). And that’s not to say that she’s a super loud child, she’s just….three. So I was fully prepared to hang out in the car for the rest of the service when things started going south. But she was a hoot.

It turns out she really does know how to whisper, and she thought this gig was pretty cool. She was a big girl in big church. As the choir entered, she sat up very tall in the pew with legs crossed and hands folded in her lap. When we sang, she held the hymnal, very solemnly and stared at the page in all seriousness. When we prayed, she leaned her forehead against the pew in front of us, put her palms together under her nose, and closed her eyes. All business. Chris and I had to bite our bottom lips and avoid eye contact to keep from laughing. It was too sweet and too precious, and she was too reverent to be three. She never once had an outburst or spoke in her normal speaking voice, but she did have somethings to (excitedly) ask and share in an appropriate whisper:

“Is Jesus about to come out?”

“When is Jesus coming?”

“He said Jesus.”

“I heard Jesus.”

She got wiggly about the last twenty minutes, and we left because she needed a potty break. But she truly was a big girl in big church.

And it resonated with me that our little people are big imitators. She was in a totally new environment, so she took her cues for behavior from us and others in the sanctuary. We normally think of that being a negative thing – being fearful of what undesirable behaviors and habits our children learn from us, but the converse of that is also true. Our little people are also learning positive attitudes, habits, and behaviors from us, and that’s encouraging to me. We work hard to drill good things into them, but sometimes they’re learning good things that we don’t even know we’re teaching…
Word Nerds Unite!
Madness, I Say

One Comment

  1. Chris Reeder
    May 20, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Thank you guys again for coming! You will never know how much it meant!

    “And it resonated with me that our little people are big imitators. She was in a totally new environment, so she took her cues for behavior from us and others in the sanctuary.”

    So true… Little eyes are watching and listening… What are we showing and saying?

    Thanks for sharing this story…

    And just for the record… You and Chris have GREAT kids! It shows you both are great parents!

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