Today is a holy day (see below if you’re unsure which one!). Holy days require me to bring Little Scribbler to church in the middle of the day (because the 730 PM mass is just too late for her, she’s usually in bed by then). Holy Days that the Auditor is working, require me to take the Little Scribbler to church during the day ALONE.
The thing about taking LS to church is that you gotta time it just right. You can’t arrive to early– because then you use up precious good behavior time doing nothing, while you wait for mass to begin. So the trick is to slide in RIGHT BEFORE the priest walks down the aisle. Our parish church is about six blocks away, and we’ve got this timing down to the second!
Except today is a weekday. So I couldn’t park where I normally park. So we were late.
We slid into the side door just about the time Father Paul made it to the altar. An open pew right by the door was available, so I pushed LS in first, and then followed her. It took me about five seconds to realize that directly behind us, in matching maroon plaid, was an army of Catholic Schoolchildren from the parish school. Or, rather, in Little Scribbler’s estimation, a captive audience of 200 children, who’s only desire was to witness her most attractive parlor tricks.
Such as the “forward roll on the pew”, or my personal favorite, “the stand up on the pew, jump up and down while loudly enjoying the feeling of your pigtails as they smack the side of your face”. All it took was one boy behind us to giggle, and it all came crashing down around me like a house of cards. That happened sometime around the responsorial psalm, at which point we took our leave.
I scooped up LS and boogied out the side door. We walked around the church to the main entrance, and re-emerged in the front vestibule, from which point we could see and hear, but not be seen or heard (well, not much anyway).
For the next twently minutes, LS ran around, looked out the windows, flipped through an old bulliten, spun in circles, examined the candles, and read most of the letters off the wall where donors names are listed. I tried my best to appear as tho I was ignoring her behavior, all the while watching from the corner of my eye to ensure she didnt hurt herself, or break something I couldnt afford to replace.
Finally, right before the Our Father, she marched over to me and demanded to be picked up. With a sigh, I hitched up my very heavy diaper bag and heaved her 45 pound self up onto my hip, while I recited the prayer into her ear. Miraculously, s he calmed, rested her head on my shoulder and whispered “wub oo Momma”. All of the sudden, I know that I DO have the patience for this adventure, and I CAN keep my cool. I feel, for one of the only times in my life, completely bathed in grace. She’s doing the very best she can, and she needs me to teach her what to do! It’s going to be a slow process, with a lot of backsliding, but we’ll get there! God will help us.
We did the “mom sway” back and forth, which any person has seen a mother do– the side to side, rythmic swaying, which lulls a child into stillness for the exact amount of time that the woman sways. Should the swaying stop, all hell will CERTAINLY break loose, and so, we sway and sway and sway until our backs are aching and our forarms are numb from the weight of the child we hold.
She let me hold her, and sing to her and pray with her, right through the start of the communion hymn (which, thankfully, as a retired Cantor, I happened to know by heart and could sing without the assistance of a songbook). We re-entered the church and joined the end of the communion line.
Slowly, I carried her down the main aisle, her head on my shoulder, until we were nearly at the altar. As Father Paul lifted the host and softly said, “the body of Christ”, a chubby little fist shot towards him bellowing “MAGGIES!!!! MAGGIES!!!!!!!!!”, nearly knocking the host to the floor.
I have to hand it to him, he didn’t miss a beat. I swiftly reached up to restrain her hand, opened my mouth, and he shoved the host onto my tongue without even breaking stride. Thanks heavens for quick reflexes!
We turn back down the aisle and head for the heavy double doors leading to the vestibule, because LS is wide awake and rearing to go at this point– theres no way we could remain in the sancturary. We we reached the doors, I paused to dip my finger in the holy water. Halfway through the sign of the cross, LS thrusts her entire chubby fist into the water, sending it spraying everywhere.
Immediately she inserts said chubby fist into her hand, and with a loud slurp of holy water off fingers, proclaims loudly for one and all to hear, “MMMMMMMMMM ‘ats GOOD!”
Whoever said taking a pre-schooler to church wasn’t like wrestling a fully grown alligator?!