I took the girls (Kate, 4, Caroline, 3, and Rebecca, 1) to a new church today by myself. On the way in, I talked about how important it was to be quiet.
Here’s how it went:
We walk in as the priest is bowing at the altar.
I find a seat for all 4 of us. Of course, it’s a row where’s there’s just enough room for us and there’s one other man who is alone in the pew. Boy, is he about to be sorry he sat there today.
Caroline: I want a snack.
Kate: Can I read the book? (She’s asking about the Hymn Book).
Me: (Handing Caroline a snack bag) Yes, Kate. Just be gentle with the pages.
Rebecca: (Rips her bow out of her hair, throws it on the ground, and then cries because she can’t reach it).
Caroline: (shoveling Rebecca’s puffs in her mouth by the fistful) Mama, can I have a drink?
Now while I come fully prepared to church with snacks, books, and quiet toys, I do not come with drinks. And not because I think the kids will spill them. Because I know I will spill it.
Me: Caroline I don’t have a drink.
Caroline: You didn’t bring me a drink?
Me: No, we don’t have drinks in church.
Caroline: You brought Rebecca’s sippy cup…
Me: Because Rebecca’s a baby and needs her sippy cup.
Caroline: Well, you shouldn’t have brought me a snack if you weren’t going to bring me a drink.
Kate: Why doesn’t this Bible have pictures like my Bible at home?
Me: Kate, honey, that’s not a Bible. It’s a Hymn Book.
Kate: What’s a Hymn Book?
Me: It’s a book of songs that people sing in church.
Kate: Can you sing me this one right now?
Me: No, honey, I can’t. The priest is talking.
Kate: Is he talking to God?
Me: No, he’s talking to us.
Kate: Well, I can’t hear him. He should talk a little louder.
Caroline: I’m done with my snack. Can I have Rebecca’s?
Me: No, Caroline, you can’t.
Caroline: Why not?
Me: Because Rebecca is eating her snack.
Caroline: She wants to share with me.
Me: Shh… this is the most important part of mass.
Kate: What’s mass?
Me: Church. Shh.
Rebecca: SHHH. SHHH. SHHH.
Caroline is now laughing at Rebecca which makes Rebecca laugh at Caroline. And just like that, the gospel and homily are now over.
Caroline: Rebecca, I want that book.
Caroline: Rebecca, give me that book, please. I said please so now you have to do it. God’s watching. (Boy, that Catholic guilt runs strong.)
Kate: Mommy, which one is God?
Me: Caroline, Rebecca does not have to share with you. She had the book first. Kate, which what is God?
Kate: Which man up there is God? Is he wearing green?
Me: No, Kate, that’s the priest. You can’t see God, he’s everywhere.
Kate: So is he home while we are here?
Kate: Could we have stayed home to talk to him?
Me: (Thinking that might have been a smart idea) Shh, this is the most important part of mass.
Rebecca: SHHH. SHHH. SHHH.
Caroline: What’s mass?
Kate: It’s church!
At this point, Rebecca just wants to get down and stand. Caroline wants to play on the kneeler, and Kate is still looking through the Hymn Book. I put Rebecca on the floor and Caroline hops on my lap. Not a big deal but Rebecca is barely walking and has no shoes on so I really have to watch her and need to be able to reach her.
The man in the pew puts the kneeler down, and Caroline thinks this is an invitation to stand on it.
Me: Caroline, please get down.
Caroline: Mama, it helps me to see.
Kate: See what? Can you see God?
Next thing I know, Rebecca is in the pew behind me, and Caroline is sitting on the kneeler. As she goes to stand up, she hits her head on the back of the pew in front of us.
You can tell she wants to be hysterical but doesn’t want to be so loud. She’s sobbing.
Caroline: Hold ME!
I put her in my lap and Rebecca comes back over and starts crying because she wants me to hold her. Caroline’s sobbing in my arms and Rebecca is reaching up to be held.
Me: Caroline, let me pick up Rebecca.
Me: Caroline, I have to pick up Rebecca. It’s almost the most important part of mass.
Kate: Important again?
Rebecca: SHHH SHHH SHHH!
Giggles ensue from Kate and Rebecca. Caroline finds nothing funny.
It’s time for the sign of peace. The girls don’t want to shake eachother’s hands and neither does anyone else. We got a half smile from the woman in the pew behind us. However, no one is giving us the stink eye, either, which is an improvement from the church we normally go to.
I start packing up my purse so we can head to Communion. The girls start to smile because they think we are going home. As I leave the pew, they start skipping behind me. They are not happy when I turn left to go down the aisle.
Caroline insists on walking on my right – yep against oncoming traffic. Kate is walking behind me really slow – holding up the rest of the line. Rebecca is wrestling to get out of my arms and down on the floor. It is not pretty.
As we reach the front, the priest smiles at us and as I know we’re not really disrupting any one else (except me) I hope he’s giving me some big blessings.
We head back to our seats and I swear the whole congregation could hear Caroline groan when she realized we weren’t leaving.
However, we never sit back down. Rebecca is wriggling and Caroline is crying. Kate is quietly standing next to me. God bless her. And it’s then that I break my cardinal rule of never leaving the church before the priest does. As we walked out the door, I realized the quietest my kids had been through all of mass, was while they were leaving.
As we get out the door, I hear the girls talking:
Kate: Caroline, where do you think we are going?
Caroline: Dorney Park.
Kate: Really? Cause I am going wherever you are going.
Me: We are going home.
Kate: I don’t want to go home!
Caroline: No. Dorney Park.
Me: Girls, it’s time for lunch and nap.
Caroline: But I’m not tired.
Kate: I’m never tired.
Me: I am SO tired. We’re all tired.
Kate: Maybe God will be at home?
I sure hope so because I didn’t get to talk to him as much as I would have liked to today at mass.
Now, taking 3 kids to church is easy. It’s getting them to stay quiet so you can get anything out of mass that’s hard.