Sunday Honey

If you read our post yesterday about going to the movies, you will know that’s pretty much how going to church went today.

We were there before church started, but had the usual struggle for who gets to sit by Mama.

This is always ironic to me, because by the end of church no one wants to be by Mama because it means you are in trouble.

Happy parenting, right?

Except not, because how much trouble can you get in at church?

Barrett spent the hour telling us he forgot sign language, so could he please just go on to primary class, and Anber spent the hour trying to crawl on Nathan – but only when she was jealous of Kyrie, not when she wanted her own actual cuddles.   Kirk was desperate to study for his talk for FHE tonight, but kept dropping his scriptures because it’s really hard to hold on to such a giant book with just one hand.  Mary thinks she is getting too cool for the Friend magazine, but it’s not quite time yet for New Era.  Really she just says that in hopes for crayons, which is not a bad idea except that Alex will use them as army men (thank you, autism).  Alex, of course, in his effort to try so hard to be good, freaks out about everything wrong that everyone else does, which leaves him jumping up and down off the pew and standing and talking and doing all the things that actually get him in trouble when really he was being great just before that.  They are so funny, so normal, and trying so hard!

Kyrie managed to stay with us for the entirety of sacrament meeting today, for the first time since she woke up as a toddler.   We did take one bathroom break when she announced very loudly that she needed to “GO POTTY NOW MAMA!” But she did make it, all the way to the closing song, where she stood up on the pew with one of her churchey board books, shouting the “ABC” song at the top of her lungs the whole time we are singing the closing hymn.  She was very participatory.

There was also some commotion most of the way through the service, as she has learned – just this morning, just in time for church – how to get her shoes back on.  She has been able to kick them off for while, but she has finally figured out how to get them back on as well.  We also had some baby drama when she opened her lunch bag (since we start at 1pm right now, we let her sleep through lunch before we get to church, or she wouldn’t make it at all) and discovered it was full of peppers and squash and eggplant from our lunch kabobs.  She shouted, “Mama!  What is this stuff?!  Why did you give me this stuff?!  Don’t you have any cereal?!”  as if we don’t pack her the same lunch we eat on Sundays most weeks.

But it’s all okay, because Nathan and I got sit for an entire hour during Sunday School, and just snuggle and learn about and discuss important grown-up things in adult language (without getting slimed in process), getting both rested and refreshed all in one class.  It was lovely!

I even made it back to nursery in time to take Kyrie to the bathroom again, and she went, and was very proud of herself!  It was perfect, too, because snack time was a great motivator for going back into class.  She stayed dry all day today!

She took her braces off in the car, so she didn’t have those, but she was wearing her hearing aid.  She spent nursery time running around and playing and singing and talking so much!  It is so good to see her healthy and happy!

She did well enough that I even got to go to Relief Society for the fourth time in the whole last year.  I was so glad, though it is humbling to be in that room of women that have cared well for our family when I haven’t even seen them or gotten to know them because this was residency year or Kyrie was sick.  This ward, for nine months, has been such a lovely host to our family, and I am sorry that I missed out on getting to know them more.  I adore the people here, and am so grateful to their kindness to us, but was not able to build deeper friendships by doing much for them.  It was an all together different experience than any other ward.

Turns out, primary was an all together different experience than any other day, as well.

When I saw Alex after church, I got this:

Um, Mama? Remember how this morning we decided that Family Home Evening this week would be about language? Well, I will have the courage to tell you the truth that I can sign up for sharing my testimony on that one because I held it in long as I could all primary, but finally blew up a cuss word in front of everybody.

This is a true story:  we talked this morning about what we wanted to do for Family Home Evening tonight, and the children decided language.  The second graders all have a copy of For The Strength of Youth in their scripture totes, and we have gone through it several times, but that section was one we hadn’t done in awhile.

Then apparently, and allegedly, another child in primary was not behaving during sharing time.  Alex said, “I was getting my autism overstimulated, but I was trying so hard!”  Finally, the other child knocked over his chair and hit Alex (or something like that), and Alex had endured enough and lost his temper and shouted, “WHAT THE CRAP?!” at the other child…. right there in the middle of sharing time, in front of all the other children.


Needless to say, he got pulled out of primary and taken to Nathan.

I don’t know why they took him to Nathan instead of me, except maybe being used to Nathan being there and not knowing when I am there or not (except that I had helped Anber pray earlier).

Regardless, Alex felt legitimately terrible, and knew he was in big trouble, but had the “courage to confess” after many “Tell her the truth!  Tell her the truth!” self-psych-ups muttered under his breath.

I was proud of him for doing so.

I just listened, and let him tell me the story, and watched as he cried some authentic tears.  That’s a big deal in Alex world.  But he processed really well, and with insight, though maybe also because he had already talked with his teacher and with Nathan by the time I got my hands on him, er, I mean, by the time it was my turn.

We don’t know where he picked it up.  It’s not a word Nathan and I use, and the nannies don’t start until tomorrow, and he’s not in school right now.  But we talked about it had to already be in his heart somehow, or it wouldn’t have come out of his mouth.  We also talked about times we have lost our own tempers when he wouldn’t stop doing something over and over or was hurting us, and how we felt bad about losing our tempers and shouting at him (that part we do confess), but that we have been trying really hard, and talked about how we are all getting better at yelling (it was a 2016 mission project at our house, for everyone), and that’s way happier than yelling just because we lose our tempers.

And again, emphasizing that regardless of where the “c-word” as it is now called in our home, no matter where it got picked up, it wouldn’t come out if he hadn’t thought about it or already tried it out or filed it away as something to use sometime.

So for family home evening, Alex had a new testimony to share, which was redirected a little as it began with “I have a testimony of why we don’t use the c-word in primary”.  Because then the younger children wanted, of course, to know what the c-word was, and Nathan told them it was a crude word for “poop”.   Alex then freaked out because he hadn’t realized that, and was beyond embarrassed he had talked about poop in the middle of primary.

Trying to refocus our lesson, I gave them each a spoonful of lemon juice, and we talked about “bitter words”.  Then I gave them an empty spoon, which was the same as just not-saying-bad-words.  Better, though, was a spoonful of honey, which is saying kind words – that are also true, not just fake compliments, which we had to clarify, as they thought a string of compliments would get them more honey.

We are trying guys.  I’m sorry my two year old shouted out “vagina” during sacrament meeting last week, and my eight year old shouted out “crap” during primary this week.  Really, I am mortified.

But I promise there is some honey in us, too.  It’s a miracle Kyrie can breathe well enough to shout out anything, do you remember that?   And if you knew Anber when she was a baby, you would know it is just as much a miracle that she wants any cuddles at all.  Barrett may be wiggling and sometimes napping on the floor, but he is quiet and staying in the pew with us, and that is progress.   Mary thinks she is seventeen already, which scares me to death, but she is picking up the language needed to share her sweet smile with us, and that’s more than we got out of her a year ago.  Alex may have made a mistake today, but he was honest about it and apologized sincerely and chose his own consequences and served them without complaint.

And me and Nathan?  We stuck with the honey.   We let consequences fall naturally, but stayed calm for the rest.  We let the older children work out their own issues, and stayed focused on the nurturing piece for all of them.  We made sure we came full circle to the increase in love phase, even though it was exhausting.

“Because when life gives you lemons,
you choose the honey.”

~ Alex, age 8

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Sunday Honey — 4 Comments

  1. Emily, I don’t know who can REALLY relate to your “disaster”, because there are so many special situations, but we can remember some pretty funny experiences with our big family. With the first five, we had them all while the oldest was still six, so, while all were healthy, there were still some crazy days ! The next seven, while still all healthy, except for the twin that died, included all four boys, so things got much crazier. We are so impressed with what the two of you do, we know yours is truly a match made in heaven, probably by the spirits of the ones you now call family.

  2. My daughter had just started regular primary instead of nursery. It had been a few months, at least. Sharing time was talking about all the things we are thankful for. She shared that “we’re thankful for our pee pee and poo poo thing, too.” None of the adults could or would share it with us – just something like “you should have heard your daughter today …” and then laughter. Our son was horrified and mortified, being five or so, but he was sure to explain it to us. We were living in a student ward at the University of Utah.