But as a Catholic so lapsed the term just plain doesn’t apply anymore, I’m a little conflicted. I definitely think some of the more universal values Christianity teaches (kindness, discipline, humility) do a kid good, and despite the problematic trappings, it’s a decent delivery system for them. And yet, he’s never been to church. Until yesterday.
Growing up, I went to Church every weekend, and my parents still do. And although I’m not sure how well years of catechism and church-going and Catholic high school did me, we are currently living with my parents. And “when in Rome,” right?
So went along to Easter mass. And my son took it about as seriously as I do. Consider Sunday schooled.
Taking a toddler to church is not a fun experience (nor is taking a toddler apartment hunting, or on a plane, or to a party, or… just search my archives, I cover most of them.) First of all, it’s church. Second of all, he’s a toddler. Neither of those things are a shitload of fun on their own, but put them together and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Three-year-olds don’t understand the need to be quiet – let alone standing and sitting and kneeling and standing – and trying to explain to them that they need to stop talking usually results in more, louder talking. Thankfully, Easter mass is full of young children (did I really say “thankfully”?), as well as a bunch of people who otherwise never go to church, so a little chaos is expected.
To be totally honest, I was hoping my kid would throw a fit so I could apologetically shake my head at my family as I carried him out of there and we could go sit in the car together listening to Frozen while the mass wrapped up.
But I would not be granted such a blameless escape. My son wasn’t exactly an angel in the pew, but his behavior was far from devilish. He comported himself fairly well, and when he did have an outburst, it was pretty mild, and it skewed more towards “entertaining” than “embarrassing.”
Here are a few of the things he said a little too loudly during Easter mass:
- It smells like popcorn. Do they have popcorn?
- Do they have any snacks?
- Let’s get outta here.
- SING! SING!
- Here comes the money guy!
- Is it done?
- I’m gonna go home and play in the sandbox, and with my cars, and with my bubbles…
- I gotta get outta here!
- If you’re not supposed to do it you’re not supposed to do it. If you are supposed to do it you have to ask.
- Can we get outta here now?
Despite my occasional protestations, I love my son something fierce, and his reactions to his first real church experience only served to reinforce my adoration. Nothing makes me laugh like a little irreverence. My favorite part was probably when he saw the usher coming around to make another collection and yelled, “Here comes the money guy!”
Three years old and he already sees through the ceremony for the cash grab it often is.
Long story short, we survived the mass, and, thanks to my son’s unexpectedly decent behavior, so did the other churchgoers. I soldiered through my aversion to cultish atmospheres, my parents enjoyed having their grandson there with them, and he made it through without being brainwashed by devotees to an immortal, benevolent (UNLESS YOU’RE GAY!) wizard who lives in the sky.
Then we all went back home and watched my son search for plastic eggs full of chocolate that we convinced him a gigantic magical bunny had hidden in the backyard.