I love attending church. It is a continuation of the love relationship I have with God. Our church is medium-ish, with about 600-700 in attendance on any given Sunday.
Today, I sat by myself as Mr. Tejano had was ushering and Teenaged Daughter sat with teens on the other side of the church. A young couple came in just before services started and sat down the pew from me. I smiled and greeted them, knowing them slightly. Their son, three years old, smiled and waggled his little fingers at me, too, which charmed me to my toes. He was dressed in an adorable vest and tie, with his hair sharply combed into place.
As the service started, he worked his way down the pew towards me. I love kids, and I am used to having them around me. I am not accustomed, however, to some of the things that ensued.
He talked to me loudly, and while I could make out some of it, I was more focused on getting him to be quieter as we were sitting quite close to the front and I didn't want him to be a distraction.
The more I interacted with him, the more comfortable with me he became. He patted my knee repeatedly when I switched my gaze from him to the pastor. By now I was beginning to wonder why his parents hadn't dropped him off in one of the several very nice nurseries we have in the church.
I ignored his antics as best I could and he became oddly quiet. I looked down and he was digging through my purse. I clasped his hands in mine, smiled, and softly said, "No, we don't do that!"
I looked over at his parents and they were oblivious to his actions. I switched my purse to the other side of me and looked back up to follow the sermon.
I felt something under my legs, and sure enough, he was burrowing under my legs to get to the other side of me. When he popped up, he reached into my purse and before I could grab his hands, pulled out a container of Tic Tacs. "Please, please!" he begged, gesturing to his mouth.
Thinking if he was appeased with a Tic Tac he might abandon me and go back to his parents, I scooted down, tapped his mom on the arm, told her he wanted one, and asked if I could give him one.
She smiled and rolled her eyes a bit. "I don't know why people are always wanting to give him things like that, but if you want to, go ahead."
I restrained myself from commenting, but shook one out into his hand. He gobbled it down.
He did not abandon me at all, but stuck to me even closer. The man in front of me, sensing my dilemma, turned around to shake the little boy's hand.
"No! No want ugly man! Want pretty lady!" he cried loudly as he scrambled into my lap. I looked the parents' way again, but they were deeply engrossed in the sermon and paid no attention to him, despite his cries against the man in the pew in front of us.
I let him sit in my lap while I tried to plot a course of action. He reached for my purse again and I was pushing it farther from him when the unthinkable happened. I was wearing a new, expensive, silk blend skirt this morning that was a birthday present. I love it and was enjoying wearing it. Before I knew it, he cocked his head back, scrunched his face up, and let loose with a huge sneeze, expelling the contents of his sinuses on the front of my new skirt. Silk blends do not adapt well to moisture and soon a widening, wet ring developed around too- vile- to- be- mentioned other things on my right thigh.
I was in a momentary state of paralytic shock over this when the next unthinkable thing happened. He evidently wasn't satisfied with his large expulsion with the sneeze and felt the urge to clear his throat, too.
In the area just to the left of the sneeze stain, he spat, SPAT! on my skirt. If someone had punched me in the face, I don't think I could have been in greater shock. Then, administering the coup de grace, he jumped off my lap, grabbed the hem of my skirt and blew his nose into it.
"Ahhh!" he sighed contentedly as he bounced off down the pew back to his parents.
When he reached his mom, he put his arms around her and kissed her. She smiled at him and ruffled his hair.
My mouth must have still been open. "He just has such a sweet way with people- he brings so much joy into the lives of everyone he's around," she cooed.
I'm beginning to understand in a new way what Jesus meant when He said, "Suffer the little children..."