Sunday, August 18, 2013

Church with Children

Now that we are getting settled, we are making a more concerted effort at attending Mass. This task is easier said than done. It's easier to prepare for Mass, load two kids up in the car by myself and drive with my eyes closed in the rain than to get them to sit still for 55 minutes (yes, we totally sneak out after Communion. Those last five minutes are excruciating to the wiggling baby and stubborn four year old. It's at that moment that this mom has had enough.)

There are few excuses for a Catholic to skip a Vigil Mass-- they are typically at 5pm on Saturday and 8am, 10:30am, noon, and 6pm on Sundays. Before brunch? After? Before dinner and drinks out on a Saturday? Before Sunday supper and the start of a great week? Really, there are no excuses.

Because Catholics love babies and lots of 'em. And that priest who has no children is totally cool with that two-year old running down the center aisle with the pregnant mother chasing after her, or feeding Saltines to a small one just to keep them from screaming singing at the top of their lungs. High blood pressure? No worries- that'll be something to deal with when they are older, like six. And kids are perfect at six. They won't need Saltines. They'll need life support. But mostly, they'll need a little Jesus in their lives with all the CTJ meetings I foresee in my children's future.

CTJ? Come. To. Jesus.

We've all had them, some involve a little more Jesus than others.

I digress. Yesterday, Husband was on call and it was both rainy and chilly. I thought to myself, 'I said, "Self- Let's get these girls dressed and go to Mass. That seems like a great idea on this Friday afternoon after traveling all day."

Self agreed.

Self was an idiot.

But, Self moved forward with her plan- asking LMC to change her clothes and dressing Bennie in a new smocked number. If they are going to be minions, at least they can be cute minions.

Cute only travels so far.

LMC grabbed two packs of Cheez-its and I opted for packing the contraband in lieu of a lecture as to why she could not eat in church. Contraband in my diaper bag, we set off on the rainy Saturday afternoon to be just in time to be early.

Early is never good when it involves kids- it is just precious minutes when they could have been quiet when it counted, not when it didn't.

Mass starts, LMC munches quietly on her contraband, and Bennie starts.... well, she starts being Bennie. She's noisy. And not that quiet kind of noisy, rather that, "Who brought that kid noisy?" Bouncing Bennie does not prevail. Patting Bennie's back fails. Tipping Bennie on her head only makes her sing louder... and the thing is, she is actually singing. "LALALAAAAA OIYEEEEE LALALAAAAAA REDRUM LALALAAAA REDRUMMMM" More shushes from Self and LMC looks over, covered in Cheez-it dust and actually says a little too loud for my taste... and the taste of those within fifty feet of us...

"SHUSH BENNIE! You are in CHURCH and we have to QUIET."

And then I started getting squall-eyes from the senior citizens sitting around me, who seem to have forgotten about how children are in church at this age. I smiled, thinking it was both humorous and embarrassing all at once.

"LALAAAA REDRUM REDRUM.... LALALAAAAA" and we pulled out the Ritz crackers. Bennie is still learning to eat, so LMC is covered in Cheez-it dust, I'm covered in Ritz dust and Bennie is fresh as a daisy, except the lone Ritz bit tucked under her chin within the rolls of fat, save for a later date or the apocalypse, whichever comes first.

My money is on the Apocalypse.

Admitting defeat, LMC and I not-so-quietly ask our neighbors to step aside so we can move to the back of the church.

"EXCUSE ME. We need to get out NOW.... please."

Thank you, LMC- I think they got the memo written in crackers.

At the back of the church, LMC thought it would be great to sit down on the smooth marble floor. This was perfect; there was a moment of silence before she discovered that the smooth floor + her cotton romper = a perfect ability to slide and slip all over, taking care not to slide on the green marble spots.

Bennie started in with her "LALA REDRUMS" and I gave LMC a look that could cut glass and hoped to put the fear of God in her.

She crossed her arms and stuck her tongue out at me.

My head started spinning.

The usher standing next to me, stared down at the Clampetts over her long nose, popped collar and pompous air. I stifled a laugh upon seeing this older woman and got down on my hands and knees before jerking LMC back beside me.

Obviously, I was really getting a lot out of Mass on this day. The homily had something to do with family or divorce or leaving children on stranger's doorsteps. Something valuable.

Scaring LMC within an inch of her life, I held my head high and skipped the thirty three rows in front of me to get Communion and safely find escape from the usher in sneaking out a few minutes early, only to be caught by Fr. Charlie-- who probably understood. He's deaf, but he ain't blind. We walked across the street to the new Ice Cream shop.

What? You don't think she deserved a treat for good behavior?

Neither did I.

"LMC, I want you to ask the lady behind the counter what those machines are."
"Excuse me, what dose machines?"
"They are ice cream machines. Would you like one?"
"YES PLEASE!"
MOTY interjects--- "Well, LMC, I wanted you to be well behaved at church and you had several chances at redemption. We will try next week and if you are well behaved, we will come back here and you can get any ice cream you want."

A FOAF ensues. I scoop her up on my other hip and carry her out in the rain, which was shockingly cold.

I load up two screaming kids in two-part perfect harmony and merrily went on our way.

Next week. We will try again next week.