Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Baptism, balloons and musical bumps

At 1.15 of the 21st April we all gathered in St. Leonard's church for Sophie's baptism. Sophie was kitted out in her finest whites, but only after a rather chaotic, unsettled, morning in the house. We took our place in the front pew of the church alongside Angela and Kenneth, Sophie’s new Godparents and along with the gathered family and friends behind us, eagerly awaited the beginning of the service.
The tall, smiling, Deacon Michael welcomed us all into the church before retreating back into his sacristy to dress in his official ceremonial, baptismal robes, or, as some of the gathered thought, their granny's net curtains.
Deacon Michael, a Canadian who first appeared in Saint Leonards church a few months ago, took us through Sophie's christening service in his stirring, impassioned style, reminding us all why we were baptised and asking us to denounce the temptations of evil and the devil in his loud, clear voice. The Deacon, with his line delivery, and minimal hairstyle, reminded some of John Malkovich, although thankfully never got quite as sinister (and Malkovich isn’t Canadian).
Through baptism Sophie would be cleansed of original sin and in doing so this act would make her a saint. A rather ironic term of phrase as Sophie had not exactly been easy going that morning and if sainthood involves continuing to waken your parents up at twenty past six every morning on the dot, without fail, I'm not sure I'm keen on it.
We don't need an alarm clock anymore. Saint Sophie starts babbling away to herself at the exact same time every morning, gurgling and chattering away to herself, or her wee bunny blanket, her small voice echoing around the room in the still, silence of the early mornings. If Ka and myself try to ignore her, the babbling soon turns into shouting and whimpering until she gets one of us up out of bed. A habit I see getting worse as the years go on.
Anyway, apparently Sophie is now a Saint in the churches eyes, in fact, according to Deacon Michael she is cosmic, but she is only saintly until she reaches such an age as to when she can make her own moral decisions, an age, I suspect, she's already reached.
Sophie is now starting to develop a little character. She’s now started playing with toys, talking to her dollies and, rather oddly, purring like a particularly happy cat, or Gizmo from the Gremlin movies. For one thing she steadfastly refuses to take her feet down off the small table before her on her feeding chair. No matter how many times you ask her to lower her feet down off the chair's small table, she simply smiles or frowns at you bringing the feet immediately back up if moved.
Okay, it's hardly enough to banish her from the church and accuse her of devil worship but it could only be the start of a rocky road to ruin.
Sophie did behave herself all the way through the baptismal ceremony though with the only hint of upset being when I tipped her backwards towards the baptismal font at the specified time.
Sophie sat quite happily in both Ka, and then my arms, for the first half of the service, spending most of the time chewing away at her right hand, before I took her baptismal candle from Deacon Michael and lit it from the Easter candle burning behind us. Ka and myself then exchanged, Ka taking the smoky candle and me taking Sophie to lower into the baptismal font, backwards. As she was lowered head first Sophie started to look a little worried. Her eyes darting about for support or reassurance, her mouth wobbled and began to twist into a wince and then a definite frown descended as the Deacon poured the three, rather heavy, pourings of water over her head. After the quick prayers and blessings I brought Sophie back up to her normal horizontal position and she quickly got back to nonchalantly chewing her hand.
Ka took Sophie back shortly after and I was put in charge of the baptismal candle which continued to smoke as we came back down off the altar. As we stood and listened to Deacon Michael the candle, unknown to me, continued to smoke, sending a long, black, wispy cloud up into Ka and Sophie’s faces before Angela swiped the offending waxwork out of my hands.
Following the short service Ka, Sophie and myself stood and posed for some photos before we headed on up to the local dive of a pub, the Salmon Leap.
Fortunately for us the Salmon Leap has a rather nice function hall upstairs and with a bit of decor, involving the purchase of some helium balloons, confetti and ribbon, the place looked half decent for the hundred or so guests we had piling in. Ka, Sophie, Morven, and myself were among the last to arrive, me wobbling into the hall with Sophie looking up from her car seat, probably wandering what was going on. Before long Sophie was out and being passed from pillar to ballooned post, visiting the arms of as many of the guests as possible, mostly of the female variety. Aunties, uncles, cousins, grannies, grandads, family friends and work colleagues (who will basically be adopted aunties) had all gathered for the occasion and took the opportunity to chat and catch up with one another. More photos were taken whilst everyone queued for a drink, some disappearing briefly to the downstairs bar to catch the football scores.
The fantastic cake, gifted by Great Auntie Tricia and Great Uncle Tommy, was cut, after a short speech of thanks and the buffet was opened and quickly demolished. Mum, Grace, Jillian, Lynsey Ann, Jean, Steven, Pauline and a lady from Lynsey Ann's work, Gale, (a nice lady who'd unfortunately spotted me at a previous John Barrowman concert), all contributed to the fantastic buffet before it was eradicated by the hall full of hungry guests. Plates were piled high upon leaving the table but unfortunately neither Ka nor myself got any of it. Sophie probably had more to eat than us as she half sucked on a 150ml bottle, now exhausted, without her afternoon nap and half asleep after being passed around the room approximately twenty five times.
I did manage to get my hands on half an egg roll and gave the plate to Uncle Colin to keep an eye on for me whilst I briefly disappeared off to chat to someone else. Unfortunately I shouldn't have.
I did manage to get half a sandwich from somebody's leftovers, a couple of bits of Gale's fruit loaf and a piece of the afore mentioned christening cake which was now being expertly cut up and dished out by Mum and Auntie Tricia.
Ka and myself had previously had the idea of entertaining the gathered kids with a couple of games and had brought along a few prizes. The easiest games to organise on the dancefloor, without any chairs or implements, we reckoned, would be musical statues or musical bumps. Both required very little effort on our part and no tools, only music. Unfortunately the musical statues turned out to be a little harder to run that predicted. Upon pressing play on the ipod for Olly Murs to begin his 'Troublemaker' the gathered kids started moving. Unfortunately the kids were either moving very little, in order to freeze easily when the music was halted, or were seasoned musical statue players, jumping about crazy and then expertly freezing in position, baring blinking an eyelid. Since I was in charge of pressing the ipod buttons, Ka was put in place as the judge and she was rubbish. She refused to put any of the kids out. Some of them were quite obviously moving but Ka would shake her head and her hands and shout “keep going, play the music!”
When we eventually whittled the dancers down to two kids we just flung prizes at them both and announced 2 winners. We then got all the kids back up on to the dancefloor for the musical bumps and that proved even more impossible as all the kids collapsed down on to the wooden floor at the exact same time, making it near impossible to pick any losers out. Well, all except Joshua, who kept pushing his luck. After another whole constantly interrupted four minutes of Olly Murs we eventually got two winners and called it a day with the games. The kids were happy enough diving about the dancefloor without our help anyway, and had been beforehand, so we just left them to it and spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with the grown ups.
After more hellos and thanks for coming, people began heading off home from around half past four. Morgan started panicking about the leftover empty pasta bowls and the identity of their owner, Grace insisted on circling the hall with binbags and Dougie done his bit for the bar, collecting the empty glasses up.
In the end only Sophie, Ka, Mum, Dad, Kenny and Lynsey Ann were left. We packed up Pauline’s pasta bowls, (I reported back to Morgan that we’d found their owner), the remainder of Gale’s fruit loaf, the helium balloons and the enormous pile of presents and jumped in the car for home, Sophie looking out from the innards of her car seat, having fully awoken once more and probably wondering where she was off to now. Ka and myself were not looking forward to getting the little lady home as she had not had the chance to eat properly during the party making it more likely that she’d have a little tantrum come dinner time due to the hunger and tiredness.
As it turned out we were pleasantly surprised. Sophie sat in her feeding chair, with her feet up, giggling and laughing, greeting Mum, Dad and Lynsey with lifted arms, who popped round afterwards with the rest of the balloons and for a quick cuppa. This is another new thing for Sophie. The lifting of the arms. Sitting in her chair she was raising them up and down intermittently, making noises, purring and yapping, eyes whizzing about like that wee crazy Gremlin from The New Batch. This crazy good mood continued throughout bathtime and dinner until I lay her down for bed in her moses basket. It was only at that moment that she let out a whimper of protest.
A minute or so later, she was asleep. We weren’t far behind her.