All but one parent at the Church of All Saints of Southern North Dakota was delighted to hear a toddler shrieking in liturgy this week. The crying child was Naomi Duncan, an 11-month-old who is the first grandchild of self-appointed child shusher Russell Holman.
For the past 10 years, Holman has taken it upon himself to provide over-stressed parents with helpful advice such as, “He’ll need to be taken outside to finish crying,” when toddlers are babbling happily and, “They can’t play here, it’s not a playroom,” when preschoolers are making their stuffed toys dance while their parents are struggling to calm their 6-month-old siblings.
Little Naomi discovered gravity and object permanence in the same day, finding that if you let go of an object, it will fall to the floor, but once on the floor, it still exists but is, tragically, a Very Long Ways Away. The toddler was being held by her mother, Irina (daughter-in-law of the famous child shusher) when Naomi dropped her toy at the moment when Deacon Paul called out, “Singing the triumphant song, crying, calling aloud and saying!” from the ambo. All of the adults were looking at the altar and none saw or heard the toy fall, and no one picked it up, unlike the other eight times Naomi had tried this. This loss caused Naomi to begin a loud cry that alternated between sounding like a worn-out fan belt and a howler monkey.
Naomi’s mother turned to walk to the center of the church and down the aisle, allowing everyone to hear the intense shrieking and causing every other parent in the church to crack a smile in barely concealed schadenfreude.
Dozens of parents complimented Holman on the intensity of the crying during coffee hour, saying things such as, “Wow, impressive lung capacity on that granddaughter,” and “I bet she becomes a choir member,” and, “What a joyful noise unto the Lord!” It was unclear as of press time whether Holman would change his policy on disruptive children as he spent all of coffee hour downloading and adjusting an app on his phone that could adjust hearing aids via Bluetooth, and he answered “Eh?” to everything people said to him despite the fact he’s never worn hearing aids.