Nursery Society

I have been spending the last several Sundays in the church nursery during the first service. Because Baby Boy is still nursing, he needs to get a mid-morning snack around 10:30. He usually gets his solid breakfast before we leave home, so he really does want to eat before second service starts at 11 am. Since he’s now too mobile/active/noisy to take to adult Sunday School class with me, and since the Munchkin goes into fits when I “appear” while she’s playing and then “disappear”, and since the number of kids in the nursery are generally higher during first service, I’ve been hanging out in there, offering extra help and making sure that Baby Boy gets his snack and the Munchkin doesn’t run over anyone.

We have several regular kids in the nursery on Sundays. One is our youth pastor’s son, L.,who is 5 months younger than the Munchkin. Another little boy, R., is turning two this week. And sometimes M., who is 8 days older than the Munchkin, and S., her younger brother, are there. S. is about 10 months old now.

This last Sunday, all of the above listed kids were there except S. (his parents, considerately, kept him out of the nursery because he had a cold), and, of course, the Munchkin and Baby Boy. The interactions and dynamics between these toddlers was an interesting lesson in sociology.

First of all, L. and the Munchkin spend a great deal of time together in there from week to week (and even Wednesdays). She calls him by name and they get along well. However, the Munchkin has a great need to prove her “queen bee” status, and makes sure that L. (who has no aspirations to her throne) knows it. She got him in a headlock on Sunday and I finally had to pry her off him.

Secondly, R. has “issues” with the nursery. To put it bluntly, he hates it. He even hates it when his own parents are in there watching the kids, so it’s not the nursery workers or the other kids. He just hates being cooped up in there, I guess. So, as usual, he was crying his head off, hoping that we would become just annoyed enough that we would call his parents so that they would rescue him. No luck. Then he tried getting at least one other kid to cry along with him, because misery loves company. Nope. Not even Baby Boy was biting at that one. At one point, he was sitting off in a corner, holding his pacifier in one hand, his sippy cup in the other, sobbing theatrically, while all four of the other kids were in the center of the room, the three toddlers paying court to Baby Boy, who was working on his crawling mechanisms. Eventually, R. gave up and joined the crowd, though he was clearly resentful about losing that day’s battle.

Thirdly, M. has her own set of issues. She and her brother are adopted, and while he was perfectly healthy, she was born drug-addicted. The biological mother cleaned up her act before S. was born, thankfully. This sweet little girl has already been playing with a stacked deck in life, but fortunately she has loving parents who have helped her through quite a large ordeal. She is a quiet, but not shy, child, and cannot match the Munchkin for sheer vitality and energy. She is quite communicative, and likes Baby Boy (which sent the Munchkin into a protective tizzy when M. sat down next to him and began petting his head – the Munchkin promptly hugged her brother’s head and exclaimed, “No, M., dis my baby brudder!”). But at some point during the service, she clearly decided that enough was enough. She went over to the cubby-hole shelves where the kids’ bags are stored, and got out her special blankie, her stuffed lamb, and her pacifier, and went to sit by herself in a corner. There was just something so sweet and pathetic in her whole being, but we adults respected her space. The Munchkin tried to draw her back out (by grabbing her lamb), but after a few tries (and adult interference to the Munchkin’s theft) she gave up and let her be. She was not fussing or crying, and if she needed comfort from her precious things and a little “me time”, we certainly weren’t going to deny her that.

These last few weeks have taught me a few things about life:

1) Toys can be shared between toddlers when necessary.

2) No one likes to cry alone.

3) Everyone needs some “me time”.

4) Snacks are a must-have.

5) Even though it seems like a long time, someone does eventually come back for you.

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