We did a practice run with her dress before the baptism. You can see she's not happy.
Teary, after the baptism, while we tried put her white dress on her.
Maya, nearly naked, with our priest.
Waiting this long to get Maya baptized wasn't a good idea. I know that. And I knew going to church today for the service wasn't going to be our best hour. But really, did she have to scream so much?
This is how the baptism ceremony at my church works. At the beginning of mass, the parents, godparents, and babies are to gather in the back of the church, near the baptismal font, to be introduced. Later in the service, the families return to the same spot, this time with their babies naked, so they can be immersed in the baptismal font, which is like a basin, and baptized by the priest. Then the priest puts chrism oil on their foreheads and then the parents take the babies to get changed into a white dress or outfit. At the end of the service, the babies, parents and godparents go to the front of the church for a final blessing and then walk out of the church with the priest.
Maya started the day well. She was happy sitting in the pews, coloring in her Dora book. Then, she decided to find her belly button. She calls it a butt. "Butt, butt," she said, pointing to her bellybutton. She pointed to mine and then decided to turn around to the people behind us.
"Butt, butt," she said, pointing at strangers, who surely could hear her.
Embarrassed, I explained quietly to the man behind us that she meant bellybutton, she wasn't calling them mean names.
She continued, pointing at strangers.
"Butt, butt, big butt."
"Big butt!?!" I thought and could barely control my laughter. My friend Pat, who was sitting in as a witness for Maya's godmother, my grandmother, nearly lost it too. "Who did she point to and say big butt?" I wondered, but was too embarrassed to look.
Finally it was time for Maya to be baptized. I took her to the font and tried to put her in. She started screaming and refused to sit. At my church, all of the children gather around the baptismal font and everyone else turns in their pews to watch. They giggled, while Maya screamed. The priest laughed and I laughed too, mostly out of nervousness. He splashed water on her and she was baptized.
She calmed down when we wrapped her in a towel, but after all the babies were baptized and the priest came back with the chrism oil, Maya lost it. She turned her head away so he had no choice but to put it on her shoulder as Maya screamed some more. At last, we were able to leave the church so we could get her changed.
She was screaming and screaming. (Not one other baby cried, by the way.) I put on Maya's diaper, socks, and shoes first and then tried to put on her dress. She wouldn't have any of it. We gave her a snack and then slipped on the dress. While all the other babies returned to the mass dressed in their white outfits, Maya went ballistic.
She ripped the bow out of her hair and threw it on the floor. She kicked off her shoes and then pulled off her socks and threw them to the ground, all the time pulling at her dress to try to get it off. I tried to distract her, but she wouldn't calm down. "Hurt, hurt," she screamed, tugging at her dress.
I gave up when communion started. I took the dress off her and carried her back into mass. She wore only a diaper with white bloomers over it. Oh, and she was clutching a plastic bag filled with Cheerios snack mix.
At the end of the service, we took her to the front of the church with all of the other baptized babies. They looked beautiful in white, while Maya, as happy as could be eating her Cheerios, was nearly naked.