It was hardly appropriate behaviour in the house of God. Even I knew that. The person just up from me was out of control. There was screaming. Punching. Tears. At one stage, a grab was made at the breast of the woman next to her. Outrageous.
Those in the front row were doing their best to find a solution to the chaos. Soothing words. Shiny objects. Cuddles. Nothing worked. There were stares from others, obviously more accustomed to quiet reflection in church.
The wonderful thing about being 16 months old is that you don’t care. Chelsea didn’t tell me that herself, but I’m guessing she lost no sleep over the unholy outburst. After all, it was her big day. She could do what she liked.
We spent Easter Sunday at the christening of a special little girl. A very loud girl. Surely no carol has been sung with such gusto in that Cairns church than the notes she reached from Pew One.
Christenings are good spectator sport. It’s a group activity. Others are there doing the same thing. Sort of a spiritual buffet. Comparisons are inevitable. Which frock is whitest. Who has the brightest candle. That sort of thing.
Each party was given their own row. We were on the right hand side. From what I could see, amid the thrashing going on along our bench, the other babies had their best manners on show. The mob in the centre row would send a look our way every now and then, with the slightest hint of smug.
Granted, their little bloke was doing everything right in his first start. No tears. Big smiles at Grandma. No throwing shoes at the priest. Ticking all the boxes.
All smooth sailing on the left row too. Their party was perfect at repeating the bits from the little blue book. The bub wasn’t even fiddling with the bow in her hair. Unlike Chelsea, who by now had a stream of nasal discharge pooling on the church floor.
It got me thinking. Could this be the next reality tv series? The Biggest Baptism? My Christening Frock Rules? Each row could be a different colour. Cameras at home, and outside the church. Candid interviews with the priest on how he wanted to throw that noisy lot out. Troublemakers eliminated, so that only the shiniest, holiest survive. We could be on to something.
After a painful, ear-splitting half hour, we were almost done. Chelsea was now hanging upside down, frilly-socked feet in the air, as we hit the home turn. Her loving parents were a deep shade of red. Team Perfect across the aisle had progressed to head shaking.
The Treasurer had a role in proceedings too. She had to bring forward the new dress. When she was asked. All part of the ceremony apparently. But there was a problem. She left the gates early.
The starter, Father Martin, was less than impressed. Like nothing else was going wrong for him. He called for the dress carrier to return to her seat, his irritation obvious. She’s been ordered to barrier trial to the satisfaction of the church.
The girls and I thought this was a highlight. The Treasurer didn’t. She quietly suggested that this episode should not be written about, so we’ll not mention it again.
Despite all the dramas, Chelsea did get her head wet. I might have been imagining it, but I reckon the priest dunked her with just a splash more water than the others. Obviously one of those old pulpit jokes for those who stray from the hymn book.
I mentioned earlier that Chelsea was special. That’s what the family of Little Mr Perfect didn’t realise. They don’t know the half of it. That noisy bundle of joy was fifteen years in the making. To a mum and dad who refused to give up. Their only child, finally. The end result of so much love.
Yes, she was the most disruptive baby ever to don the tiny white gown. Responsible for a turn that will be talked about through the ages. But none of us cared. We still think she’s an Easter miracle.
Shame we didn’t have the cameras on her. It would have been great tv. I had her ahead on points. The judges might have thought otherwise. I’m no expert on these things, but I reckon the Executive Producer upstairs would have given her the thumbs up too.