The Banana Caper

“You did NOT just do that!” That was my response Sunday morning when Ivan shocked me by throwing his half-eaten, peel still attached, banana at our senior pastor. He hit him on the shoulder and left those little yellow specks of soft banana residue on his wool coat.

I was so embarrassed.

I had packed us each a banana that morning as we left for church at our usual time of 7:00 or a few minutes after. We typically pack granola bars but I only had two left and Kris usually eats two on his own. We leave early so that Kris can get up to the teachers prayer meeting by 7:40. As the nursery and children’s ministry are not ready by that time, I take the boys to the church coffee shop and feed them a quick breakfast there. As mentioned, bananas were on the menu. I also purchased two muffins, a large hot chocolate to share and a coffee for myself. We split the muffins up so we each ate half and the sweet girls in the coffee shop divided our hot chocolate up into three cups, each with their own whipped topping and chocolate swirl and a swig of cold milk so they won’t burn their tongues. The boys love going to the coffee shop, as you can imagine, and I am usually busy keeping the crumbs, spills and conversation from getting out of hand. They are good boys, but they are children and as children they have to be watched carefully. This is especially true in a predominately adult setting.

Sometimes though, no matter how closely I am watching, I cannot prevent bananas from flying through the air.

This Sunday, I saw Pastor Davis come into the coffee shop. This happens fairly frequently and he has on occasion come to our table to say hello. Not often though. In fact, this Sunday, I was hoping he wouldn’t. It just seems that my boys find a way to act crazy when they see him. I don’t like crazy…I like calm and control. Pastor likes kids though, and when he saw Ivan, who was the last of my boys to be at the table, finishing up his banana he took interest. He approached with a twinkle in his eye and said something like, “I’m gonna get that banana!”

I had been trying to get Ivan to finish so I took the opportunity to say teasingly, “Ivan, you better eat that banana or Pastor Davis is going to get it.”

Ivan got excited. He doesn’t usually handle excitement well, and this was no exception. His adoration of Pastor Davis and the fact that he was now getting attention from him was just too much for him to remain sane. He drew his shoulders in a little, as if he were scared, and then with a nervous giggle he threw that banana as hard as he could at Pastor Davis. My jaw hit the floor just seconds before the banana did. I saw it coming but there was no time to keep it from happening.

I cupped my hand over my mouth in utter shock. “You did NOT just do that!” I said. I wanted to yank him from his chair and force the ingested portion of that banana to fly through the air by sheer force of my hand against his rear end. I couldn’t though. I was forced to stand still and assess the unexpected. This was not in the hand-book. “What to do in case your child throws a banana at your pastor” was not in any of the parenting books I’ve read. It’s not even in the Bible.

Thankfully, Pastor Davis was very amused. I tried to remain calm as he bent over and picked up the offending fruit and handed it to me. I used the time it took to take a few steps to the trash receptacle and back to think of how to act. I apologized. I think. I used a serious tone to try to calm Ivan and then watched as Pastor laughed, walked over to Ivan, gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek and then shook his head and walked away.

I was sure it was an act. I was sure he believed me to be a terrible parent. Unable to control my rambunctious five year old boy and probably not fit to be in a leadership role at church. What if he thinks Kris is a bad parent too? I wanted to defend myself soooooo bad. I didn’t teach him this. I promise. I knew he was just being nice when he laughed. He’s probably disgusted by us, I thought. I’ve brought shame on our family and I can’t imagine he’ll forget this any time soon.

Oh Ivan! Why did you do that? It was reminiscent of a story my dad loves to tell about when my brother was little. He had found a caterpillar in the church yard and stuffed it in his pocket before going inside for service. Of course caterpillars don’t last long in such conditions and after service when my teasing uncle Moe bent down close to give my little brother a hard time, he reacted by jamming the soft and gooey remains of that prickly little caterpillar into my uncle’s mouth. Yuck. It’s become a funny story about the little guy scoring one on over-bearing adults, but in Ivan’s case I couldn’t laugh much. I was truly embarrassed.

I felt better last night though. We had ministry dinner and after our dinner and large group session, Pastor Davis asked all the adult teachers to meet with him in one of the class rooms. He shared what was on his heart and as things were coming to a close I realized he was going to tell the banana story. I hid my face and he acted surprised that I would be embarrassed.

He told the story as if it were his fault for instigating the flying banana. He blamed himself for causing Ivan to react and actually said he was impressed with Ivan and our parenting because Ivan acted so confident and sure of himself. He said, “he didn’t act like he was going to be in trouble…”

“He WAS in trouble!” I interjected.

Everyone laughed and he continued to say, that Ivan was just reacting to a threat as he should have. “I asked for that banana and he gave it to me.”

I made it clear that I was very embarrassed and that no matter how natural Ivan’s reaction was, it was still inappropriate and was dealt with afterward. I was glad to hear his perspective on it, that his amusement was real and that he didn’t think we were bad parents. And I was REALLY glad that I had the opportunity to respond.

Later he told us about his blender that he got for Christmas. It’s the Will It Blend? blender and he’s going to bring it to church tonight to show it to the congregation just for some fun. I piped up from the back of the room and asked, “Do you want me to bring any bananas?”