We went to church for Paraclesis last night (finally, I got to go!), and we arrived a few minutes early, the only ones. I knew at least our friends Rick and Susan were coming, but Father likes to start as soon as someone who can read shows up, which last night was me. Before I could say, "Well, I know Susan's coming, so he can sit with her," Father told Kittyboy to help Mommy chant, and carried him up and set him on the chair next to mine, with his baby doll and his cup of milk. Hahaha, okay, we can give this a try... we started the service, Kittyboy sitting there looking all attentive and solemn and chanter-y (oh for a camera!). Rick and Susan came in, and I thought "Oh good, if he gets unhappy, I can send him to them." He didn't get unhappy, but he's two, he started fidgeting, and he likes to thump his head on things. Thump - thump - thump - thump - thump on the back of the chair. I already get very giggly when nervous, which I was from having him right next to me, and that nonchalant, blank-expression thumping was just too much. It's impossible to chant while giggling. I told him, "Go sit with Baba Susan! Go on, take baby, go keep Baba Susan company!" So he walked slowly across the front of the church, looking back at me every few feet, and I'd motion for him to keep going, and he slowly went down to the pew I'd put my purse and everything down in, and I thought "Okay, that's good, he has cheerios there, he's got his milk, and Susan's just across the aisle, that's fine." He turned and looked at me, I gave him the biggest smile, thumbs up, "Good boy! Good boy!" He put down his doll and his milk and came running back up. After all, FATHER told him to help Mommy! And Father wears the robes, so of course he outranks me!
So then he was walking around the music stand, in and out of the chair, being cute and distracting, and Father came out because obviously his chanter was distracted. Father picked him up and said, "You come with me, sit in the bishop's chair!" and whisked him away behind the iconostasis! Oh my GOSH. Nooooooo...! All was perfectly normal for a bit, then when Father stopped for a second, you heard the talky-talkiness start. SOMEONE should be talking, so the toddler was filling in! So then we were ALL giggling, at the very audible babbling from about the area of St. John the Baptist. My son was happily contributing to the service! Well, I'm sure God understood him.
So then we had Father reading petitions and then pausing... and chanting and then pausing... and I'm thinking, "Oh my gosh, what on earth is my son getting into?" Then Rick smiled and waved and pointed, I leaned around the music stand, and there was a precious little face poking out around the Royal Doors. Oh my GOSH. Father paused again. Babbling relocated to St. John the Baptist. Then babbling started to include the word Mommy, and moved to behind the St. Gabriel door, the knob of which started rattling. Father paused again, babbling relocated. Frequently what would happen throughout this was that Father would pause, and then LOSE HIS PLACE, which lost MY place, because I had to hunt down where he'd jumped to in Greek. Then right before the last section of hymns, Father opened the Gabriel door for Kittyboy, who RAN out, all happy and loudly talking, about him and Father and Mommy and the fact that he was UP Mommy UP and Father UP and ME UP! And then the service was over.
And Father gave him a little icon necklace of St. Nektarios the Wonderworker, for having been such a good big boy!
I told Husband, "Hey, if Father ever needs both an acolyte AND a chanter, obviously our son is not THAT disruptive back there!" He didn't get into anything, he didn't knock anything over, Father said he mostly sat in the chair and looked around at things (of course, there's a lot to look at back there! Lots of icons, his shiny picture friends!), and said he was good! Father's talked before about taking Kittyboy back with him so I can chant, but I've always found a reason for him not to, because I imagine the boy climbing things, knocking things over, drinking holy water, starting fires, etc, and I can't imagine our stiff and elderly priest being able to move fast enough to prevent disaster.
But if Father says it went well... who am I to say it didn't?