Sunday, August 24, 2014

Nonverbal Parenting from the Choir

I had one of those mother moments in church this morning.

There I was in the choir loft nestled among the altos with Carson sitting in the very center of my line of vision.  He was seated with his buddies among all of the youth down front and by the second verse of the first hymn, I had identified an unsettling problem. 

Carson was smacking on a piece of gum.

From where I was sitting, it didn't look like a dainty piece of gum either.  No, this was no Dentyne or Chiclet.......it looked like he'd gotten his hands on a big, ol' gumball and he was working it hard over there on the front row.  Where did he get such a gigantic piece of gum at church?!?  It had me wondering if perhaps the church had recently banked the vestibule with candy machines and a claw game for fundraising.  Maybe I was just unaware.     

Now, I don't know about y'all, but I was always taught that you don't chew gum at certain places and on certain occasions.......church being among the very top of the list followed closely by weddings, recitals, and funerals.  It's a matter of respect.  This teaching stuck with me and I've tried to instill this into my children also but, for whatever reason, Carson had decided that this was the Sunday that he would forget all of that and begin chewing on some cud during "Brethren, We Have Met to Worship".  It was so large and obtrusive that I could even tell what color it was from the choir loft.....the most lovely shade of blue. 

Well, I did what any mother worth her salt would do.........I began trying to send messages to him with my eyes.  You know what I mean.  When wanting to correct a child in public without drawing attention to herself, a mother's first tool of choice is her eyes.  You know that look.........kind of a stern look with the eyes halfway squinted and lips pursed.  The mother's look sends out warning signals of displeasure to her young.  I used to get this look from my mother when I would write notes in church and if the lights were dim enough, I thought I could even see rays shooting out from her pupils....rays that were red in color.  A Godzilla type of superpower.  You knew you were in trouble when Mama's eyes emitted light rays from the choir.  It would be a long ride home and Casey Kasem would be turned all the way down until she'd had her say.

Anyway, when a child receives this type of glare from his mother, it should trigger the internal question, "oh, shoot.....what am I doing wrong?"  as he should begin scrolling through the mental checklist in his mind. 

Not Carson.  No, he just squinted back at me and gave me a big smile as if I were being playful with him. 

I'd have to take a different approach. 

I wasn't close enough to him to use a mother's second silent weapon.......the pinch.  The pinch is usually done discretely under a table or in an embrace and is meant to quietly send the message......"Stop what you're doing NOW"......leaving the child to discern what he or she is doing wrong.  The pinch never worked with my children as they, without fail, would scream, "Ouch!!  What!!?!?" .....exposing my underground tactic every time.

With our church service being televised, my hands were tied on how far I could go with my nonverbal cues as I didn't want to be caught on camera behind the preacher mouthing the words, "SPIT THAT GUM OUT, BOY!" while sticking my fingers into my mouth in a charades sort of fashion.   So, I did the next best thing.......I made eye contact again and this time decided to place my hand gently on my chin and ever so subtly point to my mouth with my finger.  Surely, this would do the trick and he would immediately spit his big wad of blue gum into the nearest offering envelope.

"He must get his ability to pick up on subtle hints from his father", I thought as he continued smacking.  He took my finger signal to mean that he must have something on his mouth and started to vigorously wipe it with the back of his hand and then raised his eyebrows as if to ask me if he'd gotten it all.  At this point, I'd decided that I just simply could not parent from the choir loft and he smacked all the way through the invitational hymn,  whose title, ironically enough, described how I longed for him to chew his gum......"Softly and Tenderly".  I mean, you know, if he had to chew gum in church.

Oh well......I did get tickled at the situation as I sat helpless in my choir robe under the big spot lights with the camera scanning back and forth.  He could've been standing on his head while whistling "Dixie" and I couldn't have done one thing about it. 

Parenting is fun.












        



            

10 comments:

  1. Oh.my.goodness! I very much enjoyed this!!

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  2. Too, too funny! I guess there are worse offenses in church, but I would've loved to have been a fly in your car on the way home! :-)

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    1. Yes, it could've been a lot worse, Amanda! We did discuss the signals on the way home. :)

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  3. Great post. I remember those looks and the pinches too from my mom.
    My mom used to pinch and then twist. That hurt!!

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    1. OOooo......you knew you were in trouble when she twisted, too! :)

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  4. Based upon this post, I just had a conversation with my three children about what my non-verbal messages mean and what I expect them to do upon receiving one - all four of us had a good laugh! I'm not in the choir, but my mother sure was, and I had no doubt on the messages being sent!

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    1. That's a great idea, Missy June........a non-verbal messages drill with the kids! Brilliant :) Everyone should be prepared for any situation that arises now!

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  5. I am loving your blog! This post made me laugh so much! My mom was either playing the piano or in the choir and my dad was the pastor...so needless to say, I got a lot of these looks! Fun memories!

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    1. Thank you, Denice! Sounds like you didn't have much of a chance to misbehave! Bless your heart :)

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