At church, babies aren’t supposed to go to the nursery until they’re eighteen months old. Until that time, parents are supposed to look after them during the Sunday school and Relief Society/Priesthood hours. For us, that has meant letting Elena play on the podium during Sunday School, because she’s already had to sit quietly for an hour during Sacrament meeting. Then she goes with Jenny to Relief Society and roams around their room, some of women in there have taken to calling her their unofficial mascot.
Last Sunday, Sacrament meeting was more difficult than usual. Elena was being fussy and demanding. It might have been a lack of sleep, or it could have been that her top teeth were finally breaking through, but we were already worn out at the end, and we had two hours still remaining. I took Elena out into the hallway before the next class so that we could walk around and burn some of her energy. She began walking with purpose down the long hallway. When she got to the end, she walked right into the nursery and started to play with the toys and the other kids.
Jenny and I had talked a little bit about taking Elena to the nursery sometime, to start getting her used to the people and place. I didn’t expect that she would take the initiative. I had planned to stay with her and take her out after a little while. But she was playing on her own, and I ended up talking to some of the other kids instead, about the color of our shoes. After fifteen minutes, the nursery leader told me she thought that Elena wouldn’t notice or mind if I left, so I did. I waited outside the door for a minute, just to make sure that she didn’t miss me immediately, but I didn’t hear any cries from inside the room, so I went back to Sunday school.
I checked back a little later–the nursery door has a little window so that parents can look in without being disruptive. When I looked in all the children, including Elena, were sitting at a little table and coloring. I don’t think that she really understood what she was doing, but she wanted to imitate the older children, so she went along with it. She was also petting the hair of the girl next to her.
When I picked her up at the end of the meetings, she was happy to see me, and not too sad to leave her new friends. Two mothers of older children saw us and both said “at fifteen months they love to go to nursery. By the time they get to eighteen months, when they’re supposed to start, they have more separation anxiety and don’t want to go.” Now we’re forewarned, and will see what happens.
Even though Elena’s teeth are causing her discomfort now, we know that it’s all for the best in the long run. For example, new realms of food texture are already opening up to her. Watermelon is the perfect food right now–it’s cold, sweet, messy, and makes a satisfying crunchy-slurpy sound when she bites down on it. After being such a good girl at church, Elena ate several slices of it at dinner.