Today, it was just Teddy and me for the Liturgy. This meant that I took him in the altar as I was helping Fr. James with the service (on weekday Liturgies one of us serves and the other helps in the altar). I was surprised. Granted, Teddy has grown up in church, but he is only eighteen months old and he occasionally will get a bit restless or talkative. Not so much today.
As we were getting ready for the service I took him around, told him about the candles and the censer, lit the charcoal in front of him and explained that it was "hot, hot." Then we put incense in and I had him smell as the smoke began to rise. We went to get cut-up bread to be blessed and, as I was putting that in a bowl, Teddy went and looked at some of the flowers that decorate the church in this Paschal season. I went to get him just as he was getting to the chanters and smiling at them.
The Liturgy started and I realized that I had forgotten to check on the water in the kettle. We went and checked that, then returned to the altar, where I sang softly along with the chanters to keep Teddy interested. As the small entrance came, we added a little more incense to the censer. Then, I turned on one of the electric candles and, with it in one hand and Teddy in the other, went out to accompany the Gospel book. We came back in, handed the censer to Fr. James, then took it back when he was done censing. Teddy took this in quite attentively.
I continued to point out what Fr. James was doing and shortly it was time for the Gospel reading. I had Teddy help me turn on the candle and we went out together to stand by the side as the gospel for the day was read. I turned the candle off (again with Teddy's help) and then it was time to prepare the censer again, so I put Teddy down again, took a couple of pellets of incense and put them on the charcoal. A parishioner came in to help with the great entrance and, as Teddy was beginning to get a little vocal, we went to look at a couple of icons, crosses, and flowers.
Very shortly thereafter, we came back in and, with me pointing out what was going on, we got through to the consecration. We prepared the censer again and went to get the water ready. I asked Teddy to help me turn the kettle on, which he did. As the water was getting warm, I pointed out the steam to Teddy and reminded him: "hot." I asked him to wait for me in the vestry, where the kettle was, while I took the hot water container to Fr. James. He did and I was quickly back with the empty container. As it was getting close to communion, we went back in the altar, took the cut bread out, and waited until Fr. James had received communion. Then we went up together and he received as he usually does - quietly and attentively.
At that point I gave him a couple of pieces of bread (which he very much appreciated) and the service was soon over. There were a couple of requests for "down" after which he climbed to sit or stand on a bench on the side of the altar and a couple of attempts to say 'hi' to Fr. James, but in an hour that is all there was. I cannot complain about that and I enjoyed spending that time with Teddy in the altar. Yes, I know he's a little young for an altar boy, but he was less distracting than some of them :)
In other news, today he decided that he will dive into the pool. Caught me by surprise. He'd only recently started lunging in from a seated position. I guess he needed extra excitement, because after the first dive, from the side of the pool, he did it again, from the first step as you walk into the pool. He was also quite amusing as he imitated a lady who would put her head under water for a few seconds, then come up for air. He was standing on my knees and holding on to my hands when he started putting his head under water, then coming up for air every five seconds or so. Finally, his complaints at being put on his back and dragged along (while, occasionally, being left to float for short periods of time) were minimal.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. God bless and thank God for this little boy.