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, see...um…..we’re Catholic and…..um……..”
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 are..um…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!!”
Sonshine, “YEEESS! Momma! You broke the glass and was COURAGE Momma!!”
(Oh, the story book…..got 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.