Sometimes I feel like I'm the ringleader of some circus freak show where my kids and I go around creating and distributing awkwardness. Tonight was one of those times.
I was the accompanist at a baptism ceremony for a little boy in my church congregation. Mormon kids get baptized when they're eight years old and the event is fairly significant. Often, family members and friends from out of town will come for the program, which usually lasts around an hour and involves prepared talks and a musical number or two besides the baptism itself.
I should have known things were going to get ridiculous when Magdalena screamed in the car the whole way to the church. I had been planning to wear her in the sling while I played, but she was far too upset by the time we got there to sit still in it. So I passed her off to a friend as soon as we got there, set Miriam up in her own chair nearby, and went to the piano to start playing some prelude music. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the music book we needed and so in order to play the songs, I had to borrow someone's pocket copy of the Children's Songbook. The pages are about the size of a postcard, so it made playing and accompanying a creative exercise in squinting.
Magdalena was quiet for a few minutes, but then she started fussing and the woman holding her had to go stand out in the hall so she didn't disrupt the program. Meanwhile, Miriam kept wandering up to the front of the room where the piano and I were, just to visit, I guess. The piano was directly in front of the audience and I only hoped that she wasn't distracting anybody too much.
After the baptism itself, I started playing some interlude music while the boy changed into dry clothes. Miriam came up to visit and decided to sit on the bench next to me. The room was quiet and reverent as people listened to the soft music I was playing and thought about the baptism that had just occurred.
Then, Miriam decided to adjust her position on the bench. She put her hand against the piano to brace herself for the move, but her hand slipped and she ended up bashing her face into the keys instead. Not the quiet, high notes, but the really loud notes at the lower end of the piano. After a loud blast of discordant notes that shocked everyone out of their individual reveries, Miriam continued her fall by bouncing off the keys and tumbling flat on her face in front of the entire audience.
There was a collective gasp from the crowd. Miriam was oddly silent for a few moments as she lay sprawled there in the front of the room, but it was one of those ominous pauses before a big, loud crying fit.
I scooped her up as quickly as I could and started to take her out of the room. Little did I know, her mouth was bleeding, and you know how mouth wounds bleed. Soon I had blood all over my shoulder and it had not escaped the notice of some members of the crowd.
"She's bleeding!" one mom said, and rushed over to give me some tissues to help stop the flow. The kids in the audience perked up as soon as they heard that, and I could hear them repeating, "she's bleeding?!? She's bleeding!" The news passed like wildfire through the congregation.
I wanted to cry. I really did. I was so tired, so stressed, worried about Miriam, and, I'll admit it, embarrassed that I had perhaps ruined the baptism experience of this poor little boy and his family.
But once I got into the bathroom and started cleaning Miriam up, I started to laugh. It was just so ridiculous, what else could I do? Miriam's dress had blood on it, my shirt had blood on both shoulders, and I still had a few songs to play on the piano before the program was over. Meanwhile, my other child was still fussing out in the hall with my helpful friend.
Miriam and I made it back in the room eventually, and Magdalena fell asleep in my arms...just in time for me to play the piano for the closing song. So I handed her off again and she started fussing again.
On the way out to the car, Miriam tripped in the dark parking lot, which started another crying fit. Magdalena had finally fallen asleep again, but woke up as soon as I put her in the carseat and - you guessed it - cried all the way home.
I don't know what Jeremy thought when we came through the door, bruised, bloodied, and crying, just from being at a baptism. I'm hoping to see the little boy's family at church today so I can at least attempt to apologize. I think if something like this had happened at my or at my child's baptism, I would just think of it as making the experience more memorable, but you never know.
So if you ever need a little awkwardness and child-induced mayhem at an important family event, just let me know and I'm sure we can provide some, no problem.