Saturday, July 21, 2012
Kid Stuff: Mom Vertigo
Found this cartoon the other day. And found it VERY comforting (in the "okay, so I'm not TOTALLY crazy" way).
Big Kid has joined the youth group at our church, which is all kinds of awesome - for him, because he's having a good time while learning how to be a strong, productive human being, and for me, because someone else is teaching him how to be a strong, productive human being (meaning that he might actually listen, and I don't have to beat my metaphorical - and/or actual - head against a wall), and it's tremendously reassuring to see him interacting with a peer group that is the sort of peer group I would handpick for him if permitted the opportunity.
Clarification: it's tremendously reassuring to see him interacting with his peers unless said interaction takes place on a balcony. Specifically, the west balcony of the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth. When THAT balcony is involved, watching him interact with his peers is TERRIFYING.
Here's the deal: the McGlincheys are a balcony-sitting people. On account of how we are, more often than not, late for church. And, you know, just about everything else. But we sit several rows from the front, on account of how Mom has vertigo issues.
We are also a 9:30 service-attending people. That's when the Little Kid has Sunday school, and the Big Kid has youth, and Mom and Dad get to sit in the balcony, WITHOUT THE DISTRACTION OF CHILDREN, and it's almost like a little date. A date with God as a chaperone, but a date nonetheless.
However, this last weekend was VBS Sunday, and Little Kid was supposed to go upfront and sing VBS songs with the other little kids (he ultimately declined). Said entirely theoretical musical performance by Little Kid was scheduled to go down at 11. Big Kid, and other youth VBS helpers, were encouraged to stand up and be recognized at the same service. So we went to church at 11.
Here's how youth works: 9:30 is youth worship in the Justin Building. 11 is sanctuary worship for those who choose to stick around for another hour. Youth traditionally sit in the west balcony of the sanctuary. AND, FOR SOME INEXPLICABLE REASON, THE YOUNGER YOUTH SIT ON THE FRONT ROW.
Continuing with "inexplicable": the safety railing STOPS when you get to that row of seats. So it's just a waist-high (not even) ribbon of heavily carved wood separating twelve year-olds from death-by-face-plant.
This has always bothered me a little bit, but my bother amp got cranked to 11 last Sunday, because for the first time my baby boy was one of the youth on the front row. And - speaking of amped - he was pretty tickled to be there. New experience and all. Natch, he wanted to check out the view - by leaning WAY FORWARD OVER THE RAILING. (Okay, he probably only leaned a smidge - but, from Mom's perspective, he was lunging.) Meanwhile, Mom is in the main section of the balcony, facing the altar, except I'm not looking at the altar, I'M LOOKING TO THE LEFT AND WATCHING IN ABJECT TERROR AS MY SON FLIRTS WITH HIS OWN DEMISE.
That's when the arm-punching began. And the jostling. And the EXAAAAAAAAAGGERATED gesturing. Because VBS Sunday is a less-than-formal affair, involving children, so silly songs were involved, and if you have had any experience with preteens you understand that silliness makes them self-conscious, and self-consciousness lends itself to sarcastic silliness (which, don't you know, is WAAAAAY more acceptable than run-of-the-mill silliness), so if Mister Mark (director of the Children's Ministry) asked you to shimmy forward, if you were twelve and on the front row of the Death Balcony, you had to shimmy WAAAAAY forward.
Spouse noticed that I was hyperventilating. Scratched something on a donation envelope. And sent the Little Kid over to the Death Balcony with said envelope. Yeah, like sending my SEVEN YEAR-OLD to the Death Balcony is going to help reduce my stress level - oh, huh, seems that Spouse instructed the Parental Note Mule to enter from the second row and hand the envelope to his brother over his brother's shoulder. Mighty kind of you, Spouse.
Big Kid read the note. Blinked. Looked right at me. I did the finger-V-to-the-eyes, "you mess with the bull" gesture. Big Kid looked chagrined. Then Big Kid's friends noticed this exchange. They, too, looked chagrined.
Except, problem not solved, because they continued to cantilever themselves (from my perspective) over the void, with occasional breaks to look my direction, note my panicked expression and look all kinds of confused. Why were they confused? Because Spouse's envelope note consisted of the highly specific warning, "Keep screwing around, and you'll never sit in the balcony again." Spouse apparently forgot that twelve year-old boys don't recognize any of their behavior as screwing around. (Shame on Spouse, who was once a twelve year-old boy himself.) YOU HAVE TO BE SPECIFIC: "STOP LEANING FORWARD OVER THE RAILING, OR WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO STRAIGHT-JACKET MOM." That's what the envelope note should have said. But it didn't. So I white-knuckled it through the entire service.
Big Kid and I have since had a heart-to-heart, in which I acknowledged that, yes, I am probably being ridiculously, ludicrously silly, but I simply cannot suffer through watching him sit on the front row - because he is just too inherently squirmy at this age. So, if 11 o'clock services are in our future, we have a problem.
"It's okay, Mom. I'll just sit on the second row."
Bless you, my child.