There are advantages to attending a ward too small for fixed wooden benches in the chapel. I like to make sure my family is sitting together at the beginning of sacrament meeting, or at least that everyone is in the chapel somewhere. But even if we start out that way, it rarely lasts. Sometimes a couple of our kids scoot up a row to sit with their primary friends, or their friends will come sit with us. Sometimes our kids scoot back to sit with some of the ward youth. The configuration changes each week. I suppose I would prefer my children to sit right next to us, but with rows no more than six chairs wide, escape is never more than two chairs away, and not every battle is worth fighting.
In fact, our kids are probably less noisy when theyâ€™re sitting a couple rows back with the youth. Occasionally Iâ€™ll have to turn around and shush someone, but the teenager on whose lap the kid is sitting is also a fairly effective interpreter and enforcer of parental wishes. I suppose I would generally prefer that my children listen to the talks, but quiet inattentiveness is the best we get most weeks. Last Sunday I managed to capture my older kidsâ€™ attention for a minute by talking about galaxies and Egypt and Kolobâ€”actually, I got most of the wardâ€™s attention by talking about Kolobâ€”but you canâ€™t talk about Kolob every week.
Our ward is probably around average size for Germany, with about a hundred people attending, give or take. What this means is that, as long as the ward has existed, there has been a reasonably good chance that one parent from any given family would be sitting on the stand in a leadership position, giving a talk, or away on stake business, and there are also family ties between a lot of members. Keeping children quiet in church has not just been everybodyâ€™s business, like it seems to be everywhere, but everybodyâ€™s responsibility. Weâ€™ve heard the bishopric mention the importance of reverence the usual number of times, but itâ€™s not the embarrassing experience it is for parents of small, noisy children, not when the people who wish for more reverence in sacrament meeting are able and willing to make themselves useful by adopting an active child for a few minutes.
Our bus back home comes twice an hour on Sundays, and I think weâ€™ve made it to the bus that leaves just after sacrament meeting ends exactly once in almost two years. So weâ€™ll head home forty minutes after church gets out, or an hour and ten minutes, or an hour and forty minutes, depending on how many people we need to talk to, and how many friends are still around for our kids to play with. Most other ward members drive to church and could leave at the time of their choosing, but weâ€™re rarely the last people to leave.