During our retreat to Saint Petersburg, Beth's brother Brandon came for a week or so to visit. While we only had a few days in St. Pete, we still tried to show him as many sights as possible before making our way back to Moscow.
One of those places was the beautiful Saint Isaac's Cathedral. Because there was a significant admission fee and Beth and I had already visited the church a few times, I decided to stay outside with Liam. Beth had fed him recently, and he had slept a while, so we felt like it was a perfect opportunity to leave him with me. He was in a good mood, and we figured Beth and Brandon would only be about 30 minutes. Everything would be fine.
We were wrong.
I walked Liam across the street to a park, and everything seemed very normal. Liam was in a content mood, and I decided to sit on a bench and park the stroller beside me. For some unknown reason (or a probably very easily known reason; babies are relatively simple to figure out), the instant I sat down, everything changed. Liam began crying-- one of his exceptionally loud, yelling cries. I proceeded to go through my Stop-Liam-From-Crying toolbox. I picked him up. Nothing. I turned him around to have him face in front of me. Nothing. I turned on music. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
Literally nothing I did calmed him down. I didn't know what to do. I was (and am) still in that self-conscious stage where I fear everyone around me is judging me for having a crying baby.
After about a minute, I was bombarded. An Orthodox woman sitting on a nearby bench ran over and kept crossing herself and saying a little prayer for Liam. Then the nearby porta-potty attendant (only those who live in Russia will understand this amazing profession) ran over to try to help. At the same time, another woman selling souvenirs quickly put out her cigarette and ran over as well. Another woman just remained on the bench nearby, but did manage to shout a command here and there.
All these women tried their hardest to help quiet Liam. To my surprise and relief, not one woman approached me in harsh or judgmental way, and all wanted to help and support me in my mission to get Liam to stop crying. The questions came at me:
Do you have a pacifier?
Is he hungry?
Is he cold?
Does he need to eat?
Does he have a stomachache?
Does he have a hat?
Where is his mother?
Do you need to call her?
As the women passed Liam amongst themselves, I managed to quickly text Beth: "Hurry."
As I waited for Beth, and as Liam wailed at the top of his lungs, I tried to explain myself. I would say things like:
"He was happy just a few minutes ago."
"This is my first child."
Anything to make it seem like I'm not actually a horrible parent and Liam is either crying because of something that is out of my control or something I don't know about.
Finally Beth came. And the women rejoiced.
After Beth finished feeding Liam, we left the park. But not before going by every woman that helped us to show off a happy child. Our way of saying, "Look, he doesn't cry like that all the time. He really can be quite pleasant."