Monday, December 15, 2008

The thing about the Christmas Outfit

The many precious babes dressed in shepherd garb or snowflake costumes almost make me wish for the good old days of Christmas with small children. I loved those days. I planned the cute little outfits, and matching Christmas socks, and the hairbows with jingle bells and the sweatshirts with blinking lights for a reindeer nose. Yes. I did all that, with my mother, who was my partner in preciousness. And it was glorious. Except when it wasn't.

As the parents of a stellar first child in his first Christmas performance we felt like . . .

A. everyone was looking at our child, because he was/is the most adorable and

B. our child is/was the most adorable, thus everyone was looking only at him.

BigB, back in the LittleKidB days, took steps to insure that everyone DID keep their eyes on him in his first appearance on the main altar at BIG CHURCH. Big SOLEMN holy church. There cute children.... were just cute for about 2 minutes, and then gone again to their hiding place.

It was a Cherub Choir performance, in Big Church. One song. I don't remember the song, but it had to do with Mary and a baby and that whole line of thinking. It took longer to get the cherubs all robed up, (baby blue robes with white collars), and lined up on the altar, than it did to sing the song.

Because he was on the young side, and because of his need to interact with the choir director intensely, LittleKidB was on the front row, in the center. As they came in and walked up onto the altar, my first thought was -"Wait a minute, no one can see the cute little Christmas handmade outfit that he is wearing underneath that blue robe." Silly mommy! Christmas is not about french handsewing, but about all this other religious stuff.
Like the white shoes that I was polishing at 11:30 the night before, or perhaps the brand new white knee socks he was wearing with his short pants. That stuff increased the adorableness and holiness of Christmas. Not just the outfit. It's about giving and loving and about the spirit. And ALL about the children. Only a little bit about the outfit.

BigD and I were not sitting, because we didn't (and still don't) go to 11 am BIG CHURCH, we are a little less structured (holy) than that. So, we were standing in the side aisle, about 3 rows back, along with a few several many more parents and their video cameras. Video cameras were really bulky and it was a bit scandalous that we even had it visible in Big Church. The side benefit was that everyone got to see our new video camera that the Grands in New Jersey had sent so they could also get a glimpse of said Christmas performance.

So....we were standing as the Cherubs were walking in. BigD had the video camera on his shoulder (I told you - bulky!) and I had Baby Sophisticate on my hip. We were ready and glowing with pride at Mr. Adorable, who was perfectly dressed, perfectly rehearsed and perfectly shod.
Also, great vantage point for all interested parties to see that Baby Sophisticate was appropriately garbed in cute hand-sewn Christmas wear, right down to the little Christmas panties over her diaper. Because no little girl of mine would be seen with her bare diaper showing. Also, the polished shoes. There were people keeping score on the baby style points. I promise.

Then I noticed the microphones. LittleKidB noticed them at the exact same moment. In that single moment of time, I could see the future. LittleKidB could see the future. The future involved the microphones, and we both knew it.

The Sophisticate began to shriek when she realized it was her brother up there. So, LittleKidB, being the charmer that he is, kept cutting his eyes between the microphones lined up in front of the cherub choir and the sister who was screaming her single word - his name - at him from a few rows back. I have to believe that she somehow encouraged him. They worked like that, even then.

As the Cherubs settled, a hush came over the congregation, better to hear those little angelic voices. Baby Sophisticate kicked her chatter up a notch, so I slipped outside into the hall, so as not to disturb the holiness of anyone with my misbehaving child. I could peek through the window and see just fine. That move to the hall - that was pretty much my best decision of my day, because no one in the congregation of several hundred adults in the austere yet holy worship setting got to see my face.
The song began. Little sweet voices sang some unintelligible and semi-tuneless carol. Lots of restrained cooing amongst the congregation. Through the cross-shaped window in the door, I had my eyes on LittleKidB, and I was sure that the entire church did as well. Since he was the most adorable, and wearing the most adorable outfit, even though it was covered up.

LittleKidB was not convinced that they were being heard, nor was he convinced that he was the star in every congregant's eye. So he simply leaned forward, across the cherub beside him, until his mouth was about half an inch from the microphone, reached up to steady it with his hand, and simply sang the line. Loud. Right into the microphone. With soul.

"Maaaa-ehhhh- ehhhhh- reeeee had a bay-ay-ay-ay-bee."
The church sound system was working perfectly that day, and I heard that line with crystalline clarity as I stood in the hall. I eased away from the door. There was a muttering among the hall dwellers - the kind of muttering that says "Whose kid is that?" I leaned and touched my forehead to the wall. Baby Sophisticate saw no need for that kind of humble prayerful attitude, and kicked the wall and me with those hard yet polished shoes. Add percussion to the whole performance.

Since Little Cherub Boy sang directly into the microphone, it was amplified into all the nooks and crannies of the church. The ladies still working on lipstick repair between Sunday School coffee and church heard it too, clearly, in the Ladies' Room. As did the people waiting in the Narthex to be seated. As did anyone who was hoping to hear her own little cherub, whose voice was blending into a baby-angelic non-song.

A big laugh swept the congregation. There was absolutely nothing we could do. The choir mothers were moving in unison to get the microphone out of his reach. But he heard himself sing, and he heard everyone laugh. What's a self-respecting 3 years and 4 month old to do? He sang it again, only this time holding the microphone. Like he had the solo.

The choir mothers mobilized, and things settled back to order pretty quickly. I peeled myself off the wall, passed off Baby Sophisticate to BigD, and met our boy downstairs to get him out of the robes and to the proper location - which for us was the car headed home. I did no bodily harm in transit.

The other mothers I met in the hall all looked at me with eyes that were half apologetic and half "So glad it was yours and not mine."

We got all bundled up in nothing - because it was 60 degrees, and we didn't need anything but a little cotton outfit and some knee socks - and headed to the car. Once everyone was settled into carseats, and I was ready to not yell at him for embarrassing me in front of our WHOLE CHURCH, I ventured into the land of "what a pretty song, do you want to sing it for us now?....blah, blah, blah ...good parent chat." I asked about the microphone. "Were you surprised to hear yourself so loud?" Diplomatic if I must say so myself.

"We're little, and we don't sing so loud. I want Jesus to hear us. Do you think he did?"

Thanks, sweet boy,for untangling me from all the hand made outfits and polished shoes, the jingle bell bows and the Christmas panties. Thanks BigB for taking me out of my self-imposed precious-prison,and delivering me to the manger.

Yes, I think Jesus heard you. I only hope I heard you too.


Anonymous said...

I did not see myself in the "old you" in this post as I have never gotten hung up on the Christmas outfit or whatever and I'm definitely not glad you pointed me over here so I read about how have not always had such a great approach to child rearing. Not me!

Thanks, friend. And that was a lot of nots. Sorry. Hope you kept them straight. Or not.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

I love it, what a great story. And that last line, it's a kicker!


Kat said...

Awww. Now see??? He gets it! I love that story. I bet he loves to hear that story retold too. :)

kikibibi said...

Reminds me of a favorite line from a song: "can't wait til you have a couple little children of your own!"