The other night I took the kids to Saturday evening Mass. My husband was was out of town on business. I’d wanted to try for Mass for Sunday morning but as chaos built up here, I realized that getting out the door the next morning would just not happen. I told Cloud to get the little girls ready and the boys to get ready. Cloud put the little girls into flip-flops and tank top dresses. The boys were in t-shirts, as in, undershirts. They wore hoodies over them. I wouldn’t notice Cloud or her sisters until it was too late and we were taking off in the car. . . or the boys until they were in church and simultaneously removing said hoodies. I am in no way a prude, but for church, my boys need to wear something more substantial than undershirts even if they are clean, and no one in my family should bare their shoulders in a church unless it is a bride or her bridesmaids. Sandals are OK, but I don’t like my kids in flip-flops at church; they are way too casual and they don't pay attention.
At church, I parked the car with a few minutes to spare and felt proud of myself. Other people were arriving. Do my kids do what I have tried to train them to do, the same that I was trained to do without my parents ever telling me, did they wait around the car while everyone got out so we could walk in together? If I am asking you this, you know that the answer is no. My automatic locks on my newer suburban don’t work. It was like a trap set up to slow Batman down when they all hopped out of the suburban and sprawled across the parking lot and I had to simultaneously yell at them to slow down and wait of me while leaning over to lock doors manually. Cloud was loudly scolding her brothers over going too fast, 12 year old Guy was elbowing Calamity Jane over something. Starshine and Mudd were racing each other for a Darwin Award* and proving why we must walk with parents or older siblings to cross driveways. Dmitri had taken a seat, fortunately in the back of the church, but I’d have to look for him.
Going inside I realized that the door to the church was open, with the seated people clearly able to hear the havoc that Clan Crumpet was causing. The priest and his retinue were waiting and he was smiling at me, “Which of your kids get Communion?” I assured him that I’d spoken to them—all of them would. He suppressed a laugh, I wasn’t fooling him, I could talk to my crew all I wanted but I don’t think he thought they’d listen and if he did think this, he was probably correct.
Calamity Jane would complain that the music was too Protestant, she didn’t like the hymns and they “are not Godly.” She sings Gregorian chant at the Orthodox church and wouldn’t sing with us, “But I will do everything else with your people.” Guy was singing but grunting, drawing attention to his special needs. Cloud, in addition to being casual, had chipped nails and toe nails and that bugged me—if you want nail polish, fine, but keep them polished. (I’d later ask her if she would tape scraps of clothing to herself. Even in high school, my nails were perfect-- it was the bargain I did with my mom if I grew my nails out and got to paint them red. My spearing of olives with them drove my dad nuts, but she laughed in private over that.) Joey made loud comparisons to his fathers’ church and to the Catholics. Bash didn’t want to be touched so he sat on the far side of Dmitri. Dmitri was Dmitri and cute and sweet as ever, rebuffed by his brothers as he tried to show them things in the hymnal. At one point Starshine blew a whistle that I would confiscate, and she occasionally screeched because I wouldn’t allow her to pull down the kneeler or get up and sit with different family members. They handled Communion OK—the Most Precious Blood wasn’t spilled, but I think Bash may have gulped it.
Upon leaving, my crew separated yet again, but Father did get out with his escorts before we did, inspite of Bash trying to take off. Guy wandered away and went out another door when we got into the foyer. Twice I passed Father and said, “Good morning!” (It was aer 6pm.) I came back in to look for Guy and one of the deacons told me to bring them all back again, assuring me that we were OK. What was I thinking in having so many independent variables?!?!?!
I am allergic to booze because God knows that I would drink it often and this is an act of God that I cannot drink it. We came home and I put in a movie for them and sat in my room and listened to Bach and drank tea and ate Almond Roca.
Next time we get into the car, we will go over how I expect them to act when they get out of the car. When I spoke to them in the car on Saturday, they blamed each other which drove me to the brink of quietly pulling out my hair. We will talk about how to act in church and what to do if someone bothers you. It's complicated. I stopped making ugly faces and I don't even get mad at the kids beyond a short lecture. Restriction, reading a chapter on manners, none of it works. Maybe talking before church next time will help and maybe it won't. My children will most likely have children of their own and they may be as I often am with them!
*I sound like I am joking here. I am not. Parking lots scare the sh-- out of me be I driving in them where there are people, kids or adults, running around, and they scare the sh-- out of me when it's my kids or hsuabnd running around in them. In theory, my children watch out for the little ones with me!