Tuesday, May 7, 2013

holy terror

I have a confession to make. In other words, I'm utilizing one Sacrament to talk to you guys about another. I really like....splitting Mass duties.

There, I pulled the band-aid off real quick-like. The last couple of months have seen Sean and I going to separate services nearly as often as not, expressly for the purpose of not bringing Jordan. I know this is terrible but it's also addicting.

Let me explain: being a morning person, the quiet solitude of services that take place in the 7 o'clock hour is right up my alley. They're uncrowded, the singing is minimal, it's calming. Sean prefers extra sleep and usually attends a Mass in the 9 o'clock hour. But be it the 7:30 or the 9 o'clock, the atmosphere of church is going to change drastically if you bring The Jordan.

It's not that she's a brat in church; it's not that she's screaming or tantruming or whining; it's not even that she's overly verbose or trying to contribute to the homily. It's just that Jordan has the energy levels of an Amazon jungle cat on crack cocaine.

yes, you.

She's unpacking the diaper bag. No actually she wants to pull all the readers from their slots on the back of the pews. Well they don't look as good on the floor so now she wants to put them back. That still doesn't look right, let's take them out again. This three feet of space we're occupying is not exciting enough, how about we invade our neighbor's bubble? Mom, hold me. No, your stomach's in the way. Dad, hold me. Put me down. I don't like it down here, hold me. Didn't you bring crackers? Let me unpack the diaper bag again to double check. Can I get out of this pew? The aisle looks like a perfect sprinting track. I don't like this dress, if you don't take it off I'm going to rip it off and make a scene. How many times will I need to say "hi? hi? hi? hi? hi? hi?" before that annoyed old gent behind us acknowledges me?

^ just to name a few ^

And I know, I know, other parents have the same struggles. I've heard their accounts. I've witnessed a few with my eyes. But somehow, somehow, when Jordan is in her most unglued state, I glance around to find two or three similarly-aged toddlers in our immediate vicinity, sitting like cherubs upon mother's lap and giving Jordan the side-eye that all but says "you know they have exorcisms for this type of thing."

A little while ago, while expressing my feelings to Sean on the matter - in what I'm sure was the most calm and collected of manners - I blubbered something like, "but how do we get her to change her ways?" And he answered in the characteristically abbreviated yet exceedingly wise fashion that I've come to expect from him, "Example." That's all he said.

So a couple days ago, I dropped Sean and Jordan at the front to grab us a spot while I parked the car. I had all the regalia for a Mass with Jordan: blankie, binky, baby, slices of cheese, cup of milk, books aplenty, live circus animals. I walked in to our usual spot to a coronary-inducing sight: Sean had Jordan on his lap, his head bent and his hands clasped together; Jordan was sitting complacently, looking at the altar with her hands mimicking her father's. No wiggles, no fuss, no sprinting. And she stayed like that. Only after the Our Father did she want down to move around, but even then it was minimal. Therefore we did what every well-adjusted parent does: rewarded her with processed sugar...

...and took the most attractive picture of her chowhounding

(Many moons ago I condemned the bribing of children with doughnuts in exchange for good Mass behavior. I sniveled and derided and looked down my nose at the idea of teaching my child that if they honor Jesus, they get a doughnut. Then I realized: Jordan is 21 months. She has NO idea what is happening. Positive reinforcement until her brain can more strongly conceptualize what's going on doesn't seem like a bad idea anymore. And besides, I ate way more than half of that doughnut.)

By no means do I expect that church-going has permanently been turned for the better. There is a medium-well to overdone chance that this was the fluke of the year 2013. Maybe even of 2014. But I will be making an effort to concentrate on the reason we're there, and not on Jordan's every bat of an eyelid of flick or a finger, because as much as I'm monitoring her, so is she me. Perhaps I should give her something to emulate and not to aggravate? 


  1. I think all of us are bribed to behave during Mass with the promise of doughnuts in the basement afterwards (and blood pressure checks on the first Sunday of the month!)! haha. Love your blog! (:

  2. We had a similar experience. Once I stopped packing toys and snacks and sippy cups for our toddlers and older, and started making the kids kneel, stand, pray and say the responses along to the best of their abilities, make the sign of the cross, and so forth then it became easier for us to redirect our kids (time and again) to the Mass.
    And donuts or ice cream are used almost every week. No shame here! :)

  3. Oh man. It's gonna be weird when Natalie hits that stage. I'm taking this post to heart.

  4. Glad to know we're not the only parents struggling with Mass behavior! Now that Mary can crawl and pull up and cruise, she sees no reason why she should have to stay put in our arms or laps. She voices her disdain LOUDLY. At the same time, I really don't want to go to a church with a cry room because I want her to eventually learn how to pay attention in church like everyone else... sigh. My inlaws claim they just sat their little kids in the front row and everyone paid attention because the Mass was so interesting. Haven't been brave enough to try that yet!

  5. this was super cute. at least she didn't start saying shake your booty like my friend's kid during a song in mass. i won't give her any ideas. ;)

  6. Jordan is really working her curves in that top photo! If you've got it, flaunt it - that's what I always say.

    The Brayn of Chalayn