on the bench

The Tie Game– you begin by snuggling with a daddy or a brother with a tie.

It’s a miracle. Truly.

After nearly two decades of wrangling wild little boys and their even crazier sister at church, I glanced over and noted all my children sitting quietly.

It’s good to ask permission, and then you carefully roll the tie up…

It wasn’t for long, within minutes I had to stand up and forcibly sit between two wrestling boys and well, I confess that I may have started some of the giggling by telling Gabe we were having cat food for Sunday dinner. But really, in general, they quietly play the dot game, fiddle with Mary’s etch-a-sketch and even listen to the speakers. A pastime of their own invention is the drawing game where they draw little sketches– five heads bent over one scrap of paper– and the pen goes to whoever guesses the subject first.


Gone are the days of babies throwing up on my new dress, crying and scattering Cheerios. No one yells, “I’m going to punch you in the face!” and even Gabe has given up his habit of shouting “That’s me!” any time someone mentioned the Angel Gabriel.

up, up

So many Sundays, I sat in the lobby with my toddlers, defeated by their antics and wondering why on earth I kept coming. And then there was the week an elderly lady frowned at Mary scolding, “Have you had that child checked by a doctor? She’s the most hyperactive baby I’ve seen in my eighty-five years!” That week I fled to the hall in tears, vowing never to come back.

But of course I did.

and tuck it under their chin.

And so I revel in our peaceful row: boys in white shirts, Gabe with mismatched socks, Mary in a gorgeous dress. Even with Erik visiting other wards most weeks, they are fairly quiet with their games and whispers. I’ll never insist on complete silence; it’s always been more important to me to help my children feel loved and happy at church than to impress anyone with my perfectly disciplined progeny.

You push the nose button, releasing the chin and eagerly see which silk sliver is going to win– the wide long section on top or the skinny shorter one on the bottom?

Still, we all have our limits. Last week when the meeting went long, Mary leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Can I go out in the hall and just be bad for a few minutes? Then I think I can come back in and be good.”

It’s always a tie. 😉

She ran three laps around the building. Nothing wrong with that child at all.
October 6, 2011
October 14, 2011



  1. Heidi

    October 11, 2011

    This post was just what I needed…with 3 little ladies and the oldest not quite 3 1/2 church is truly a challenge….even when we adopt other people to help. Sometimes I forget it won’t always be like this. 🙂 Thanks!

  2. Aaron and Stephanie Cousins

    October 12, 2011

    “loved and happy at church” – I hope I can remember that. Thanks!!!

  3. Tracy

    October 12, 2011

    “It’s always a tie!” LOVE!

    Love that Mary. When can Esther come over to play?

  4. Cath

    October 12, 2011

    Oh Michelle – this might just be one of my favorite posts you’ve written. The tie game running parallel to your dialogue about church and how your family has evolved. You make me want to love better. Make me look ahead with anticipation. And the pictures? Pure joy.

  5. Lisa

    October 12, 2011

    What a delightful post…I’m not sure who is sweeter, Miss Mary or Stefan in these photos! I had the hardest time behaving in church once my children stopped misbehaving. It seems I need a Mary moment to go out in the hall and “just be bad” myself every now and then.
    And I’m going to make sure Cass sees this too…last week they stayed for 20 minutes in church with both babies and then gave up and went home!

  6. chococatania

    October 13, 2011

    I love this post.

    Our little girls play the “tie game” with my husband, too…your pictures are great.

    Thanks for keeping up this blog. It is always such an inspiration to me.

Comments are closed.