My Husband "Subvet" says that when our first son "Sonshine" was born the sun rose on our world, when our second son "Gator" was born the sun laughed and when our daughter "Sugars" was born all the flowers bloomed. That says it all.

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...
It's about learning how to dance in the rain."

Your mind is the garden, your
thoughts are the seeds, the harvest can either be flowers or weeds. — William

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Taking the Hooligans to Mass

this was originally posted 9/1/08 on Extraordinary Mom's Network.

Taking the Hooligans to Mass

It's quite the adventure. Let me tell you about it.

My kids all have developmental delays. Speech, socialization, physical, sensory integration, think kinda like mild autism and you'll have the right mental picture.

For starters, our church is one great big echo chamber. I’m telling you, the squeaking of my shoes echoes in there! Now, I spent 3 months trying to teach Sonshine to say “go” back when he was almost 2 and only had 4 words. I will remind myself of those 3 months of prayer and struggle to teach him to talk every 6.7 seconds from the opening of the church doors to the pulling into my driveway.

So, would you like to join us on a trip to Mass??

We go through the same thing every Sunday. It starts outside the doors with Mom announcing “We are now going into the church, this means you need to be QUIET! Do you understand?” A rousing chorus of “Yes Ma’am” a grin from Subvet and OFF… WE…… GOOOOOOO!!

Due to sleep schedules (I work nights and the kids nap) we go to the 10AM Mass…..the most crowded one…the one where if you don’t get there early enough, you’re gonna be standing in the aisles. Well, as you can imagine, trying to get through Mass without the visual and physical barriers of the pew just isn’t going to happen so we always make sure to get there early….Plus, we need to be up close so the kids can see what’s happening. This helps them stay focused and attentive (more or less). So all in all we get to church about 30 min early. Which is just about the time that the Family Rosary starts up.

Sonshine, (at a louder than normal volume) “Look Mama! It’s JESUS Mama! YEEEEESS It’s Jesus on the Cross Mama! Jesus with Booboos on the Cross Mama!!”

Mom, (in a frantic whisper) “yes dear, now we need to be quiet and take our seats come on”

Did I mention the words ECHO CHAMBER?

Everyone, (in prayerful mumble) “Hail Mary, full of grace..”

Sonshine, (in normal speaking voice…and 5 words or so behind everyone else) “Hail Mary full of grace, it's Jesus Mama!! Jesus with BooBoos!! Blessed are thou among women Mama!! I'm saying Hail Mary Mama!! and it's Jesus and GOD on the CROSS Mama!! with BooBoos!! “

Mom, (still with that frantic whisper) “very good, now say your prayers QUIETLY please”

This continues until the rosary is finished, he’s always about 4 or 5 words behind…always with interjections…always at a volume sure to make echoes in the near empty church.

He’s even learned to cross himself now…of course he does it with his left hand (not right) and smacks himself almost hard enough to leave a mark, but still!.....

Future interview with Child Protective Services—“Ma’am, your son has bruises on his forehead, shoulders and chest…” “Well,…..we’re Catholic and………..”

Then Mass starts.

Very early in the Mass Father Tim blesses the children and sends them to the chapel. This is good, Mom takes both boys and we join the other kiddos in our child oriented lesson. During which my 2 sons studiously attempt to unweave the wicker on the chapel seats. Raise their hands to volunteer to read the scripture (Sonshine is –at 4 years old—4 feet tall, so I have to keep saying no….sorry…they can’t read) and generally attempt to focus on whoever the teacher is that week.

I do know that Sonshine listens, even though he doesn’t appear to. For example, one day the story was about courage. One part says that it takes courage to tell your parents when you do something you shouldn’t, such as breaking a glass. Now, all during the story the boys…shall we say otherwise occupied. Generally being wiggly, noisy, and distracted.

Then we rejoin Mass at the beginning of the Eucharist (Communion).

Mom, (once again) “OK boys, we’re going back into church it’s time to be quiet. If you’re not quiet we will have to leave before it’s over. Do you hear me?”

Boys, (cheerfully, with big smiles) “Yes Ma’am”

Deep breath, quick prayer…...or two….

The congregation is usually singing as the kiddos (and this mom) come back in. We get to our pew, Subvet and I exchange thumbs-ups to say that Sugars was marginally quiet during the Homily and the boys did not succeed in destroying the chairs in the chapel….this week.

We’re half way there.

We kneel, the church gets quiet as Father Tim begins the Eucharist.

Sonshine, (LOUDLY) “Look Momma!!! It’s the Body and Blood of Jesus Momma!! YEEEESS Momma! The Body and Blood of Jesus Momma! Jesus with BooBoos!! Jesus Died Momma and God put him on the cross with Booboos Momma!!!“

Mom, “yes, now be quiet or we will leave!”

Remember 3 months of begging God to allow this child to talk???

A few moments of quiet pass during which Gator-boy (y’all better pray for my sanity once he starts talking) starts getting fidgety. Out comes Momma’s purse. Some women carry makeup and wallets in their purses….I carry……..

Church appropriate (ie, quiet) entertainment. (if ever you need such items…the calculator and tape measure work the best)

Then begins the weekly wrestling match. WWF has nothing on Mightymom vs the Hooligan Duo in the pew. Trying to teach them to kneel has been a challenge, to say the least. Usually finds me with a boy on each side of me (toy in hand) on the kneeler with a handful of the backs of their pants and pull ups. This way I can “apply gentle pressure” should they decide they don’t want to kneel anymore….

(I’ve never faced the folks who sit behind us….better not to know) I will say that since we started going to Mass, my shoulders, hips and back have gotten much stronger. (It’s all about counting your blessings, folks!)

Sonshine, (when do they learn to whisper?) “Momma! You broke the glass momma!!”

Mom, “WHAT?”

Sonshine, “YEEESS! Momma! You broke the glass and was COURAGE Momma!!”

(Oh, the story book… it)

Mom, “ssssssshhh, it’s time to be quiet, see Daddy’s gone to get the Body and Blood of Jesus, we have to be quiet now”

Sonshine, (even louder than before) “Have to be quiet Momma! Have to be quiet and break the glass Momma! And Jesus has Booboos Momma!!!”

Mom, “hush now or we’re gonna have to leave. “

Sonshine, (WAILS) “NO Momma!! Wanna see Jesus!! Momma Wanna see the Body and Blood of Jesus!!! PPPPLLLEEEEAAASSSSEEEE!!!!”

(Oh yeah….worst mom of the year award coming my way.)

Mom, “we’re almost done. Please just hush for a few minutes”

Sonshine, “sssshhhh Momma.”

On come the announcements….Sonshine (of course) has a comment for each picture they project on the wall to go with the announcements but by this time I’ve given up and am just trying to grab up all our stuff so we can make a quick getaway. I sincerely hope the poor guy who usually sits in front of us is hard of hearing. I figure since he doesn't bust out laughing or show signs of irritation he MUST be!!

Father Tim says those blessed words “Mass has ended, you may go in peace”

We head out the door, load the clan in the van. Subvet looks at me and says “Well, we made it through another one! Shall we stop at Sonic on our way home?”
You’d better believe it! Momma needs a treat!

Thank you Dear Lord
For these precious children
For the special encounters we have with them
For the lessons they teach us.
Thank you for their ability to talk…..even when they talk too much.


ellen b. said...

Oh the humility our children teach us! You're a great momma MM!!

Lisa said...

Round of applause! Boy, do I know where you "live"... &:O)Totally LOVE their understanding of the booboos. It's good that they remind everyone!
The first ten years of our marriage, I might have actually been able to really attend Mass ~ IN the chapel ~ a handful of times. I was usually out in the vestibule doing damage control. But, then, praise God, I had teenagers I could send out with the Littles occasionally. God and I finally got to have a good look at one another...

I'm convince that He gives us moms extra credit for seeing Him in the children when we're fighting the Masstime battles. (Moms and the people sitting behind us!)

Anonymous said...

Having grown up Catholic, I can picture that so well. I used to sit and imagine the nuns doing cartwheels up the aisles and back flips from pew to pew. Good thing I did not try it myself! ;)

If only adults saw Jesus and his sacrifice so vividly and openly as our children. Their commentary probably reached some deeper than the homily! :)

Linda said...

Patience thy name is Mighty Mom!

diana said...

i remember reading this when you originally posted it over at emn. you surely will have a special place in heaven =)

Lori in South Dakota said...

Loved the post on going to mass. Our church has a basement with a kid's room--you can take the little ones there when the service gets too long for them and the service is on the speakers so you don't miss out. ROFL--much that is! I can see the boys trying to unlace the wicker! The best service I was ever at was when the neighbor's boy was on the top riser with the little kids singing--he was busy WAVING (yes, big letters--he was waving really hard!) at his dad and fell off the back of the risers. ROFL--Sam has never lived it down--it was caught on video--and his dad hasn't either! Best thing was--his mom was Sunday School Super that year!

Pam said...

Such a cute post! While it made me laugh, it also brought tears of joy!
Yes Lord, thank you for our precious children and their abilities!
God bless you MM!

WeaselMomma said...

You had me literally crying with laughter as you explained you technique of "gentle pressure" in teaching the boys to kneel. I haven't laughed that loud and long in ages.

Anonymous said...

Sarah my toddler was just diagnosed with autism. I seemed to remember that a couple of your children were on the spectrum, too. We have our mass adventures, too!! =) We have a crying room, but my daughter tells me she can still hear him allll the way up on the altar when she is serving. Sometimes he'll escape and I'll have to chase him up the main aisle. He loves the rosary, though... it is one of the only things that calms him when he is all wound up!! =)