Many of you are aware of my trepidation and uncertainty regarding Ian's baptism. I was concerned because I know that he's not accountable for a lot of what he does. I was concerned because I know he's deathly afraid to put his head under the water. I was worried that he wouldn't act appropriately and people wouldn't understand. I didn't need to worry.
After talking with Scott and my father-in-law regarding the accountability issue, I decided to talk to my bishop also. All three of them said the same thing. They said that Ian needed the blessings of having the Holy Ghost with him all the time. My bishop also pointed out that God is the only one who can determine a person's accountability and He will do so in a completely fair manner. He said it was our responsibility to make sure that ordinances are performed so that a person can benefit from the blessings. The way he said it helped me to calm down and understand that this was a good thing for my son.
At the last minute, I decided to go ahead and have Ian baptized on the stake baptism day, which was September 11th. The day before that was his birthday.
His birthday was one of the best he's ever had. He woke up bright and early at 6:15, ready to open his presents. Surrounded by his groggy family, he ripped paper and tore into his bounty as only an eight-year-old can. I thought for sure he'd refuse to go to school, wanting to stay home and play with his new toys, but I was wrong. He wanted to go to school. He was excited for me to bring treats for his class so that they could celebrate with him. Thank goodness I remembered. I didn't think I'd make it to his class in time though, becasue I forgot my wallet at the store, but luckily Harmons takes checks and didn't ask for I.D.
In the afternoon we took Ian to Chuck E Cheese with Joe. Having one friend instead of a bunch of hyper boys was perfect for him. Everyone played arcade games, including Tawni and Beka, who gave their winnings to Ian so that when all the tokens were gone, he had almost 500 tickets to turn in. He was so happy and so appreciative. He and Joe played together until evening and when it was time for bed, Ian fell asleep in my spot, snuggled next to his dad. I didn't have the heart to move him so I left him there and slept in his bed instead.
The first words out of Ian's mouth the following morning were, "I'm getting baptized today!"
His joy and excitement were palpable. He was hyper and stimulated from the get-go. But he never misbehaved. He was good as gold and his happiness was contagious.
We went to the church early so that we could take pictures. Somehow Ian managed to smuggle a giant pink Slinky and tiny toy monkey into the building. The Slinky made a grand entrance, bouncing off the ceilings of the hall and foyer with joyful abandon. The monkey behaved better; it knew that screeching was not allowed in church. But when the Slinky tried to bounce and fly into the chapel, it was apprehended and jailed inside Tawni's purse.
The baptism program took place in the chapel. Three other children were being baptized the same day and they, along with their dad's, took a seat on the front row. Ian was not capable of sitting. He crawled across the bench, wiggled, squirmed, sprawled across his dad's lap and then stood up. He walked to the wall next to the podium, and grabbed the ledge with his hands. Lifting his feet off the floor, he proceeded to hang and crawl along the edge using his hands. He has amazing upper body strength because his feet never once touched the floor. I was horrified and entertained at the same time. What I couldn't understand is why Scott wasn't stopping him. And then I saw it. My mother-in-law was taking pictures, causing Ian to do it even more because he had an audience. My children were crying they were laughing so hard. I just shook my head. What did I expect?
Once the program started the kids had to go up to the stand and receive their Book's of Mormon. As the speaker introduced them Ian pointed and hollered, "Mom! There's Julie!" He started waving frantically at his friends and me until I acknowledged his efforts. After that he decided he was bored and bent in half over the ledge, arms dangling towards the floor, while the other three kids stood reverently beside him.
Our primary chorister, Mary Beth Sheppard, called on Ian to help her with some songs. She gave him a card to hold. When he lifted it up high, everyone needed to hum. When he put it down, we had to sing using words. Ian was very excited to be helping and climbed on the bench to stand up so that everyone could see him better. He held the sign high over his head and we all hummed. He put it down and we used words. He got that gleaming sparkle in his eyes and... hum, sing, hum, sing, hum, sing, hum, sing... in rapid succession. The smile on his face said it all. He was having the time of his life and so were we.
When it was time for Ian to be baptized, we all journeyed to the primary room where Ian's Grandpa and Uncle Peter acted as witnesses. Scott led Ian down into the water and my boy clung to his Dad with a death grip. He was so scared to go under the water. But he did it, although I seriously doubt he'd have done it for anyone other than his dad.
Back in the chapel, all those who turned out for this event wrote messages to Ian, notes for him to save and help him remember this day. While we were writing he came galloping back into the chapel, hair dripping and sticking up, and resumed his wiggliness on the bench.
During his confirmation, I wish I'd kept my eyes open to watch him but I didn't. I was informed by others that he kept looking up at the many different hands on his head, and scanning the room around him. I doubt that he heard one word of the blessing, but by this point, I knew it didn't matter. Ian hearing and understanding wasn't the important thing taking place. When it was over, everyone expected hugs from my boy. Ian doesn't do hugs, not without a lot of prompting and bribery. He tried to escape but Scott is quick and let him know that people needed handshakes or hugs. He hugged his dad and his grandpa, the rest either got a high-five or a hard-pumping handshake.
This entire baptism process didn't take more than 45 minutes. During that time, I worried a little about Ian's behavior, but after a while I knew it just didn't matter. There was a feeling that overshadowed all worries, all hyperactivity, all wiggles. The feeling was joy. Ian was filled with it, his family and friends felt it, and I know the Savior felt it. His love and happiness bore testimony to the rightness of what was taking place. As I observed my son, I knew that everything he did that day was smiled upon. No one judged or disapproved. They just loved this special child of God.