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September 01, 2004

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I've just got the one kid, but I can relate to so much of what you've written. Consecration? Yeah, that's when Dorian typically indicates a need to go potty, and miracles or not, when a toddler indicates a need to go potty Mama needs to MOVE.

We're very lucky, though, because Dorian typically is very good at Mass. Our church is designated a black Catholic church (though we're far from being the only pale faces in the congregation) and we usually go to the gospel Mass because it's fun and Dorian loves the music. Our parish is very friendly -- the sign of the peace takes ten minutes as everyone moves up and down the aisle shaking hands -- and Dorian spends much of the Mass smiling and waving at the people around us. That's fine with me, because I think the community aspect of the Mass is important.

We tend to sit about halfway back, in the same place we always sat even when we were a family of two. We've got good friends in our parish with a daughter a month younger than Dorian. When our kids were infants, they informed us that they believe that it's best for them to keep sitting right up front, so that the child is on display and must be perfectly behaved. Well, guess what? Now that she's a toddler, the family sits in the very back, and I frequently see the father standing behind all the pews, watching his daughter as she wanders around. At least our kid stays in the pew with us! (Unless he has to go potty, of course.)

I'm particularly proud of the system we've worked out for dealing with Dorian during Communion. I let Vince go ahead of me in line, and I carry Dorian. When I get to the priest or minister, I pin his arms down so he can't snag a wafer off of the plate. Then when I get to the minister with the wine, I hand him off to Vince, who has already recieved the Blood. It works, but it's a complex maneuver involving two parents. I'm not sure how well we'll deal when our children equal or exceed our numbers....

I just happened across your journal by following links from the Made by Mom webring (I think it was that one...). Just wanted to drop a note and say hi and that I've enjoyed the entries I've read so far!

You...you take your kids out when they fuss during the Consecration? I bet you don't let their piercing screeches drown out the homily either. And I think I might love you for that reason.

Our church is also a "black Catholic" church although in reality I'd say the congregation is about half and half;however, in the church I grew up in in my very segregated city, you never would have guessed there were black people in the pews, so joyless it was. This church we go to now respects and honors the traditions of its black members instead of expecting them to fit to a tradtional mold. This leads to praise dancers (oy vey) but also to a wonderful, joyous Mass that children enjoy because they don't have to be quiet throughout.

I am still eagerly awaiting my first and my friends from church with kids don't do anything inconsiderate, so let me ask this rhetorically: What are parents thinking who do not enforce decent standards of behavior in church? I know it's so easy to look at things from the vantage point of childlessness and say ""my kids would never" when I know full well they will, and worse, but when I am breaking up a fight among a woman's six children while she sits placidly staring ahead, there's a problem and I am not it.

" perplexing proportion of preternaturally placid preschoolers"

I so enjoy your writing! :-)

Summer and Amy, best of luck with your kids in church. Summer, I would guess that by the time you have another little one who needs guidance as you receive Communion, Dorian will be big enough to know that he should not get crazy with the chalice. Of course by then he may have fun new tricks to keep you busy in the pew, but hey -- it keeps life interesting, right?

Amy, I have really been humbled by trying to teach my children about the Mass. You'll have to let me know how it goes for your family. (But you're having a girl, right? So maybe we can hope she'll be a little less wiggly?)

Allie and Denise, glad you're enjoying the blog. Hope to see more of you.

LOL!
I can truly sympathize. I have 11 children total, and one due in March. 3 don't live at home anymore, so we just have 8 to take to church with us now. My first 2 girls were practically saints- or at least I can say that now! Then came the 3rd, then the boys...sigh. I have spent many times in the back of church trying to keep a child or two quiet. As teens, the boys are a little better, but they still take pride in poking each other, etc during mass at times. Despite you thinking "they are old enough to know better" which of course they are one level,they still haven't reached a point spiritually where they understand things and they are not yet at a point where they can appreciate the beauty of the service. THAT is what I pray for. I want them to know and understand, but sometimes I have to sit and shake my head, wondering *when* that will happen. I can tell you it won't happen by taking them out of church, and I for one appreciate it when someone else helps me tell/get the kids to behave. It sometimes comes much better - and gets a better reaction- from someone other than the parent!

We have a somewhat unique situation because we are Eastern Catholic- Byzantine/Ruthenian. The church where we just moved is Ukranian- VERY Ukranian, so the liturgy that we are used to singing in English is all done in Ukranian here and my kids don't understand a lot- one trade off though is that all Eastern Rite Churches communicate children, so it is difficult for us to take the little ones to an English/Latin Rite mass when they can't get communion there. They don't understand. Our children have all been baptized, confirmed and received Holy Eucharist since they were infants. When it comes time for communion, every one of them behave, so we are fortunate in that.

I have met a few old crotchities in my time, and also a few younger couples who either A) don't have children or B) are blessed with the kind that sit still and act like saints- & who may express disapproval, but though comments and glares may hurt, in the end it is WE who have to return home with our kids and hope *something* sinks in. I keep reminding myself that God gave us these particular children with these particular personalities, so He must figure we are the right parents for them. All we can do is pray that He not let us make too many big boo-boos! (and the other maybe not so charitable thought that I must confess sometimes crosses my mind, esp with the "know-it-alls", is, don't worry, someday you too will find out!)

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