“I need a snake,” my two-year old daughter informed me. “I guess I better watch Aladdin.” I love how her brain works.
“No, Lainey. Wesley’s doing a reading at his school mass today. We’re going to watch him. Let’s get dressed.” It would be a miracle if I made it out the door — along with my two toddlers, their coats, sippy cups, binkies, snacks, books, extra clothes, blankets, diapers, wipes, toys, and anything else required to leave home with small children — in time to watch my eight year-old read at 8:15 mass.
“Lainey’s going to church!” she yelled and ran to her closet. “Lainey’s gonna wear a pretty dress!” She grabbed a bright blue sleeveless summer dress. It’s mid-November and 20 degrees outside today. I went about putting warm tights under the dress, a sweater over the top of it, and warm boots on her feet. Lainey and her summer dress were going to church — hopefully, on time. I still had to get her little brother ready, pack the diaper bag, wash the skin mud mask off my face, find an outfit for myself, and make the three minute drive to my older kids’ school. It was 7:45 already and really tempting to lock my toddlers in a box, drive the three minutes to the school, watch Wesley read, and then drive three minutes back home. I’m sure they could survive 10 or 15 minutes locked in a box without me. Just kidding. I wouldn’t do something like that. I only fantasize about it.
Tristan wore his pajamas to church, I forgot the sippy cups, and I left the house without brushing my long long hair. Lainey removed her hat, coat, boots and sweater during the drive, but we made it just in time and before she removed her underwear.
The mid-week mass is particularly difficult because I’m so outnumbered. At least when my husband goes with me on the weekend, we’re each responsible for one toddler. When I attempt to go by myself I hear a voice inside my head scream, “Let the wild rumpus start!” I’ve written before about how much fun it is to take these two to church. (Ergo, the locking them in a box and going by myself fantasies). Today was no different.
Lainey really gets into singing at church, but she missed the memo about what to sing, so she stood in the pew belting out Frozen songs and the ABC’s. That wasn’t too bad, but then she started throwing the hymn books around, and by the time I finished taking those away from her, Tristan was gone. I mean gone. Disappeared. He’d been totally locked in between me, Lainey, and another mom. How did he escape?! I got down on my hands and knees to peer under the pew. There he was, making a stealth beeline for the front of the church. I cannot believe how quickly children crawl! If I attempted to crawl under the pews to the front of the church, I wouldn’t make it two feet. So that was not an option to retrieve my child. I stood up, exited my pew, and entered a pew a couple rows up to cut him off. It was like that game at the fair where you pull a duck out of the water and get a prize; substitute church pews for water and babies for ducks. My prize for pulling a baby from under a pew was a fantastical shriek. Tristan had been auditioning for Spy Kids 5 and I ruined it. I wanted to tell Tristan that I had probably saved him from being kicked out — because if Jesus kicks people out of the temple for selling things, he probably also kicks them out for movie auditions in there. But try explaining that to a one year-old.
Things went better (for a time) after we moved to the back of the church and stood for the rest of mass. My toddlers could walk around and Lainey could run in the bathroom to “go potty”. Tristan found a broom in a closet and started sweeping the church foyer. Hey, whatever kept him entertained! Lainey told me there were still bad dragons living in the church basement and didn’t attempt to flee downstairs. I even managed to carry Tristan up to Communion and Lainey walked next to me (versus running away). After I received the Eucharist, Lainey stood patiently waiting to receive it herself. And wouldn’t move. She just stood there sweetly, blinking her big blue eyes, smiling and waiting her turn. Since First Communion in the Catholic Church is around age 7, she was going to be waiting for awhile, and was none too pleased when I grabbed her with my free hand and pulled her back down the church aisle as I carried Tristan in my other arm. The mass was almost over. We had made it through without any major attention drawing catastrophes… I thought. Then Tristan took off in one direction and Lainey took off in the other. I followed Tristan (it’s a bit faster to catch and grab him first) and then turned in search of Lainey. She had run up a different church aisle… all the way to the statue of St. Joseph, hugged the statue, and yelled, “Oh hi! I love you, too!” Then she turned to the flowers next to the statue (while continuing to speak to the statue). “These are nice flowers you have. I like them.” The people near her were trying their best not to crack up in their pews. The priest was still behind the altar putting the Eucharist and wine away. I didn’t make it to the statue in time to catch her before she took off in another direction. She paused near a window with a dead bug on the sill. “Hey! There’s a bug here!” she yelled. She turned to look directly at the priest. “Hey, guy! There’s a bug here! You should get him!”
That was about the time I took both of my kids into the bathroom to hide. We had to come back out to give Devin and Wesley hugs, and tell Wesley he did a good job reading, as the students were filing out of the church – but I’m happy that we didn’t run into the priest, thereby avoiding my daughter harassing him further about the dead bug in his church.
I have a new fantasy that my older boys won’t read at mid-week mass again for several years. But that’s about as likely to happen as me actually locking my toddlers in a box. I can still dream 😉