Monday, March 30, 2009

Charlie's got competition...

...in the pew, that is. I was hoping to forget about it completely...but since Amy brought it up in the comment box, I better 'fess up. Truth is, I heard little of the Gospel yesterday, and dear hubby heard even less. 2 year old Frank was a real terror. Okay, maybe not "terror," but distracting to those around us none-the-less. He discovered the echo of his voice yesterday, and for several minutes during the Eucharistic prayer/consecration continued making noises and laughing despite John's attempts to stifle it. Once they stood up and entered the communion line, things were fine. The boy just needed to move. In his defense, it was a tough mass. All of the high school religion students were in attendance to mark the end of their year, and recognize the seniors. They took up the first 2/3 of the pews. So we sat well into the back half of the church. (We're usually in the first couple pews so that the kids can see what's going on, and tend to behave slightly better.) There were also several rows of Knights of Columbus members with their families for their annual family mass. All this meant extra prayers, blessings, songs, etc. It just was more than 2 year olds could sit through without being able to see what was going on. It didn't help that there was a slightly unhappy (albeit grumpy) older couple ahead of us who continued to send sharp, disapproving glances in our direction through most of the mass. (Another reason I love sitting in front...I can't see the disapproval from behind, and then worry about it less.)
Anyways, it was a difficult mass, and we struggle with how exactly to handle this. We don't want to be disruptive, but our kids do need a chance to learn proper church behavior. We don't have a "quiet room" in our church, so if things get too out of hand we have the option of taking them out into the vestibule/entry for a few moments, but I kind of think once they know that's an option, they tend to misbehave just to get a change of scenery. Anyone have any thoughts on this? We started taking most of the kids after age 2, and for the most part, it seems like it's worked well. Just a couple of the boys now want to make it a little crazy. Charlie is still active in the pew, but at least not noisy or disruptive to those around us. And despite the disapproving glances from in front, there were a couple families behind us that commented how well-behaved our kids were in church again (talk about mixed messages?!)
(sigh.) I just keep thinking, next week's another chance for things to go smoother, right?! Feel free to share comments on this.

13 comments:

4prettybabies said...

I wish I knew the answer! We tend to go to different masses so we don't have to deal with our little kids and the rude stares at church! I think you should just keep doing what you're doing and try to ignore the grumpy ones. Either they never had children or don't remember what it was like to bring kids to church. The majority of people UNDERSTAND and don't judge. If they didn't really think your kids were well behaved, they wouldn't be moved to tell you! Remember...it always seems worse to you than it does to others. I'm sure they are impressed at how well your kids behave and that you take the time to go to church as a family! I'm looking forward to that day with our kids! 2 down and 2 more to go! You're doing a great job, Jamie...don't let anyone make you feel otherwise!

Anonymous said...

Jamie- There is no perfect answer but I can tell you those that judge are the ones who need to feel bad. I was in mass and didn't notice any major disruptions!
I felt I had to send a reply since this subject is near and dear to my heart. About 4 years ago my two kids were in church with us and it was crowded so they had to sit in the pew behind us. Needless to say they were not very good and they were old enough to know better. They were not screaming or making noise but they were obviously not paying attention to the mass. When church was over as you can imagine I was furious and they were punished. Well two weeks went by and we received an anonymous letter from a lady (who apparently never had children) who proceeded to tell us what aweful parents we were for letting our children behave like that in church..... I was crushed, upset and feeling bad about my abilities as a parent all over again. It really was one of the most hateful letters I had ever seen. My poor kids two weeks after the incident were getting into trouble all over again as my first reaction was to punish them again! The more I thought about the letter the angier I became that someone would take the time to tell someone else how bad of a person they were and to judge other people that way. At that moment I realized that it wasn't me or my parenting skills that needed help... It was her. So don't worry about what other people think... You do what you feel is best for you and your family. If others can't deal with it.... Then they need our prayers more that we need them.

Anonymous said...

Jamie,

That is a difficult one. I was in church and didn't notice either until right before John left with him. I personally think you do a great job with your kids behaving so I wouldn't worry about it. I did get a tip from a different mother when my kids were about kindergarten age and could understand. That tip and the rule now is in our house is if you do not behave in church you will go to the next mass and will keep going that day until you do behave. We have had to go to back to back masses for 2 of the 3 kids.

wife, mother and so much more! said...

I cannot believe that anyone would send you a letter. I was told, from a Down syndrome group, that when a person turns around to stare you down, just look at them and say "please pray for my child" I know Erin is disruptive and I really did feel your sweat, Jamie, but they do have the right in church and I agree with you Jamie, once you take them out they just know exactly what to do the next time so you can take them out again!!

I have to know one thing--what did Fr. Rick say to you all after chuch?

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything that has been said. Kids are not going to learn 'Church Behavior' if they are not in Church. Some days are better than others, that's life. I know it's easier said than done, but dont' let it discourage you too much. I too was at that Mass, I did not notice any 'extra' noise or commotion. It was a lot for me to handle!!

Lisa said...

I got a kick out of this post. Now I understand the comment made after mass even more! As you know my issues in mass...and our youngest is 5. I keep hearing from mother's whose children went into religious vocations that my child's behavior is similar to theirs. We can only hope their behavior is their restlessness to be a part of mass. It was a total fluke that I was able to go by myself on Sunday. I do enjoy going as a family but I think it could be a good "gift" to each other to go by yourself atleast once a year! As for going to mass until they behave....I am afraid we would have to check out all the local mass times and start at the earliest one on Saturday evening! LOL Anyway, I didn't notice any disruption and I was sitting in close proximity.

Lisa said...

Oh yeah, one thing I tell myself that if God wanted me to be able to hear all of mass (as I would like to and very often yearn to), he would not have called me to the vocation of motherhood. Sometimes on those Sunday mornings becoming a nun seems a whole lot more tempting than it did in my early twenties!

wife, mother and so much more! said...

Lisa--I so agree--how funny!
I can understand why God made mother's to be multi-taskers, men couldn't handle it!

Anonymous said...

Jamie,

First of all, I love your blog! I am a mother of three young ones 5, 2, and 8 months.

Bringing young children to mass can be difficult. I am envious of parents that can bring their young children to mass and they remain quiet and undisruptive! My children are not that way!!! My husband and I brought our first child (a girl) to mass all the time, until she was about 9 months and she became disruptive. I felt we were not getting as much out of mass as we could, plus I felt she was disrupting others. So I did what my parent's did – one parent went to mass and one parent stayed home with the kids. The one that stayed home with the kids went to a different mass. At first this was hard for me, as my husband and I went to church every Sunday, holiday, and holy day of obligation. I truly enjoyed this!

But now my oldest, who isn’t in school yet, is old enough to sit and listen and not be disruptive in church. She goes with either my husband or I to mass, but the two younger kids still stay at home!

My faith grew a hundred fold in the years I kept her at home because I was really able to listen to Father and Christ’s teaching and grow in faith and not watch her, pick up books, calm her crying, remind her to not talk, or chase her down the aisle! Now it is nice to bring my daughter to church and she sits, listens, and doesn’t misbehave and my faith continues to grow as I listen to the teachings and Father. She enjoys going to church and is excited when she goes.

My parents did this with all their children. Some people disagree with this method – they say how can you expect children to learn about Christ and his teachings if you don’t bring them to mass??? My answer -we have religious articles and children books in our house. They are taught and reminded of Christ always – especially when we pray. This method worked for my parents - all my siblings are adults, have grown in their faith, and are devoted Catholics.

I hope this helps!

jamie said...

Thanks for all the positive comments, and words of advice! John and I have even talked about starting to go to masses during the week with the kids (for more practice) especially during the school liturgy when church is filled with kids and distractions anyways. I hate for church to be a negative experience, or a form of punishment, so we'll just have to take it week by week, and if we don't see improvement, may just have to leave some of the younger boys with Lucy at grandma and grandpas. I just keep hearing the words "Let the children come to me..." and God forbid, I don't want to be the one to keep them from Him. Thanks again!

jamie said...

oh, I should also mention that while John and I may not catch all the readings during mass, we do usually make time Sunday evening to re-read and discuss a bit of what was read. I enjoy that time immensely, which may not happen if we were hearing it the first time at mass.

Sheri said...

Jamie as a mother of five I know where you are coming from. I often think my kids probably bother me more during mass than those around us, or so I tell myself. The one constant message that always comes to my mind when mine act up is, Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me" I am sure Gods opinion is the only one that counts, keep bringing those wonderful saints! Just say a prayer for those grumpy ones. God love you all!

Ann said...

A friend of mine with a large family, talked to her kids about what a privilege it is to go to Mass and how "big" your are when you get to attend with the family! She said it worked great with her little ones who then wanted to go to be with all the others.