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The dos and don’ts of baptizing

June 19, 2011

Baptisms are spectacular events for those finally wanting an excuse to soak your child and parade him or her around older, vaguely familiar faces like he or she is Simba from The Lion King.

It's my understanding that baptism is a form of rebirth, which is strange, seeing as though our daughter was JUST born. Clearly something wasn't good enough. When I point out to my wife if she perhaps did a better job birthing our daughter the first time this wouldn't be necessary I'm met with a cold, calculating look that clearly says, "You are so cute and I wish I understood things the way you did. Thank you for being wise."

There was some debate about doing it, largely because I find it difficult acting on my daughter's behalf. However, when I asked her flat out if she wanted to be baptized all she did was grab my nose. That's a yes, right?

Eventually I figured, what could it hurt? It's an easy first step into heaven and considering the alternate there's really no downside. Plus, I like people owing me favors. I can't think of many better than this. I imagine meeting my daughter in heaven after a long and fulfilling life:

"Looks like somebody got into heaven," I'd say, casually, floating over in my car made out of clouds and peanut butter cups. "You know how that happened, right?"

She'd be so grateful and indebted to me she'd probably hand me her ice cream tickets. Because in heaven you get free ice cream tickets that allow you to eat as much as you want without gaining weight. And this is great because I would've had to give mine to MY parents.

My suggestion of having the baptism ceremony in Florida at a water park (which the pastor would bless, making all of the water Holy) was callously ignored. The way I figured it, if a little Holy Water dripped over the head is good, what could be better than sliding down a water slide into a giant pool of Holy Water?

During the ceremony, you're instructed to say a vow. And this isn't a simple marriage vow. This is serious vow stuff. I mean, I had to renounce Satan. I had no idea to this point that we had been cordial to one another. Were we cool previous to this? I wonder if he was upset after hearing this.

Me: "I renounce Satan and his wicked ways."

Satan: "Aw, nuts."

We weren't given the vow ahead of time, so we were put on the spot. I couldn't say no or even think about not repeating the vow for fear of ridicule. I felt a lot like I was signing my name to a long-winded user agreement document I've never read. And why am I saying it? I'M not the one being baptized here. Then I had a thought (I have those, sometimes multiple in a day) was this an intervention? Did I just get religion'd? I tried not to dwell on this.

I felt as though when the ceremony was complete that my baby should have looked differently, or perhaps started glowing. How else can you be assured the baptism took? I assume it's not a hit-or-miss thing, but what if I pronounced a word wrong? That's a lot of responsibility that I didn't ask for.

Following the ceremony was a reception, of sorts, where churchgoers comment on how beautiful your baby looks.

"She is so adorable!" they say.

I never know what the appropriate response is but in retrospect I'm pretty sure it's not

"Yes, she is. We are quite attractive. Our mating was clearly very proficient."

Having gone thought he process now, I'm more than qualified to help other parents through this. As such, I've compiled a list of Do's and Don'ts.


Sneak a bit of Holy Water on yourself. It can't hurt and there's plenty in that basin. Warning: your skin should NOT burn.


After the ceremony is complete do NOT immediately shout, "Release the krakan!" This is inappropriate. I guess.


Take lots and lots of pictures. Your baby has been awake for hours, dipped in water, carried by a stranger and paraded around other strangers while being chanted at ? he or she has never been more ready to spend a half hour taking photos. These are memories you want to capture with every combination of family members possible.


As the pastor is carrying the dripping, newly-baptized, infant do NOT dance behind him or her around singing "The Circle of Liiiiiifffffffeeee!"


Following the ceremony it is recommended you do NOT think of ways to test your baby's new powers. There are none. For instance, your baby will now not be able to breathe under water. You should probably stop watching comic book movies.


Ensure you place the diaper on correctly prior to placing on your grandfather's 90 year-old hand-made ceremonial gown that he and every other family member since him has worn. You've only put on an estimated 36,000 diapers to this point and the antique gown now has the fabric strength of tissue paper. Essentially you're draping your baby in the Constitution. People start staring at you in a very un-churchy way if you accidentally place the diaper on a little sideways. Like it's your fault your infant can't hold it until the diaper can be re-positioned.


Kelly Van De Walle is a creative writer for The Integer Group as well as communication consultant for Briscoe 14 ( strategic communications group. He can be contacted at or via Elton John medley.



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