Going to church when your children are young is not always peaceful, heavenly bliss. There are moanings, groanings,negotiations,and pleadings from the children,"Why do we have to go? But what if we get hungry? Can we have donuts after mass?" You get the picture. To make matters even more challenging, sometimes the people who surround you at mass do not always share your views regarding reverence and respect. For example: Half way through the homily at mass yesterday (the homily is the portion of mass where the priest explains the gospel reading and offers inspiration for how you can apply the concepts into your daily life experiences - this is the part I really love to hear whenever possible) a parent with her two young sons entered church and stood right behind us. Since we were seated in the last pew, we could feel their presence looming over us like one of the dementors from a Harry Potter movie. I know, I know. That's not nice Ms.Mary. But seriously, how would you feel if you had people towering over you when you were trying to pay attention to the sermon? I figured they were going to wait until the priest was finished with his story then take a seat. I assumed incorrectly.
What transpired was an example of what not to do when you enter a church. Especially if you are already "tardy to the party." The mom proceeded to talk to her two sons and point out where friends were seated. I waited patiently hoping she would interpret some non-verbal cues I provided for her convenience. A simple head turn in her direction would surely indicate that I was able to hear her conversation. I didn't sigh loudly in protest. I didn't make facial expressions or body gestures to voice my concerns. I simply turned in her direction....five times....as if to become privy to their conversation. Sadly, the woman did not respond by hushing herself or her children.
I'm pretty tolerant when it comes to families with small children, I myself have had to make more than one hasty retreat to the "crying room" when my children became too noisy during mass. To be perfectly honest, there are moments when I still struggle to maintain order with my three. Sebastien is very active and has a hard time sitting still. His imagination often takes over. He becomes intrigued by those cute little pencils that are placed in each seat for visitors or members to fill in the collection envelopes. Did you know that three tiny pencils strategically placed between your knuckles become Wolverine Claws? When this happens, Nathan, age eight, feels responsible for correcting his brother's behavior even through I've advised him that this is my job as the parent. Isabella, age eleven, rolls her eyes and throws a sympathetic glance in my direction.
Anywho... back to our errant family. I finally decided that the best approach for our three dementors had to be delivered in "direct" form. So I channeled my mother, who is excellent at keeping rowdy church people in check, and turned to the women behind me one more time. I kindly and calmly asked her if she and her boys would like to take a seat and pointed to one two pews away...plenty of room for all of them with minimal disruption to the individuals who were already seated. She declined. At that point I said, "I'm trying to teach my children to be quiet in church. Shhh." It was polite. It was direct. It made my point.They remained quiet for the rest of mass. They left before distribution of communion. What?????!!!!
Who knows why they chose to come late,stand instead of sit,or leave early. I'm always happy when anyone chooses to come to mass. It's a boost for the week. It energizes me and helps me refocus on my goals. It's a way to become closer to God and to my family. It's a legitimate way to torture my children with moments of mandatory silence. (Just kidding. They need Jesus!) It's hard to know when to speak up sometimes. We don't want to offend people, but at the same time....shouldn't we hold each other accountable? There have been times others have had to correct my children. It's not always easy, but I know it's important for them to learn to be respectful. I hope the woman with her two boys returns to church next week so I can say hello and tell them, "So good to see you again." You never know what other people are going through. Perhaps something you say or do can make a difference.
So here is Six-Year-Old Sebastien's Inspiration from Sunday Mass: I had to tell him to settle down and be respectful. He was quite restless at church yesterday. "Sebastien, please calm down. We need to be quiet. This is Jesus's house." Sebastien responded, "Well then, where's his room?" Never a dull moment with these children!
Have a Wonderful Monday filled with lots of Inspirations! Find something fun to share with others today! Thanks for taking time to read this post and for allowing me share what I love to do.. write!