Adventures in the church nursery

(Originally posted at ClobberBlog)

Behold, the instrument of God's wrath on nursery workers far and wide.

Behold, the instrument of God's wrath on nursery workers far and wide.

I guess I went through a crazy spell earlier this month, because I signed up to work in my church’s nursery once a month for the next few months. My reasoning was two-fold:

  • My lovely 2-year-old daughter Harley (pictured above) has had a major case of separation anxiety. Every time she gets dropped off in the church nursery (LDS or evangelical), she spends most of the time crying, and she’s quite the obstinate crier. She has been known to spend the entire 1.5 hours in a corner sobbing and whimpering. Since she comes with me to my church twice a month, it would make things a little bit easier if I’m in the nursery with her for one of those two Sundays.
  • The other women at my church have spent plenty of time watching my brat, it’s probably about time I returned the favor.

Besides, the Mormon nursery workers tend to have better luck with Harley than the workers from my church so that she’s more at ease there, and I can’t have that. I’m in a battle with Satan my Mormon husband for her soul and all.

My first day was this past Sunday, and the nursery workers were myself and a teenager from the church who seemed to be a seasoned veteran at this. It made me a little giddy when they introduced me as one of the nursery “teachers.” Teacher just seems like such an exalted title for someone whose job mainly consists of wiping snotty noses and saying things like, “Do you need help going potty?”, but teacher is what they called me, so there you go.

Harley initially freaked out upon seeing the nursery, knowing that the nursery room usually meant I was leaving, but after a while she saw that I was staying and then she became a very happy child. “Oh, Mommy’s staying, this is just like playgroup!” And she got busy playing. By 4PM (when our service starts), Harley and another little boy who knew me well and was very comfortable with me were the only children there, and I began to think that the nursery thing might not be so bad after all.

I forgot that people with kids usually arrive late. Parents dropping off kids began to trickle in after 4PM, and by 4:15PM we were laden with 4 toddlers (ages 2-3) and three babies between 6 and 18 months. One of the babies was a great little girl who barely needed any maintenance at all; one of them would not stop crying no matter what we tried to comfort her and by 4:45 we gave up and sent for her mother. The last baby was absolutely terrified of me (good call, kid) and only wanted to be held by the other nursery worker.

The toddlers were all pretty easy to manage, and my plan worked since Harley was having a blast and seemed to understand that I was busy with the babies and could not play with her. She still managed to pull down some Cheerios off of a shelf and knock them all over the floor, which was bad since another one of the toddlers was allergic to Cheerios and had to be kept away from them. We managed to not get anyone killed though. I’m still proud of that.

It impresses me that there are Mormons who watch kids that age for an hour and a half every Sunday. Is the ability to tolerate, calm and comfort other people’s kids a spiritual gift? If not, it should be. In any case, once a month is plenty for me.

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