Thursday, July 07, 2005

Three vs. Four

Last Sunday, my roommate Amy and I volunteered to help our other roommate Annie take her four nieces to mass. She has been mom to the four girls for the last week and a half while their parents are away.

Three women over 22 against four girls ranging from 8 to 2.
We lost.
I always had sympathy for parents with misbehaving children in church. I could feel their anxiety and concern about the distraction, and usually gave them a nice smile. In fact, whenever there are kids doing something that might bother someone, and the parent tries to apologize to me, I always laugh and say that I love it. I always come close to saying "I understand" before I realize that I, single gal that I am, do not fully understand at all. But I get it. Empathy is one of those traits that has been forced on me by my mother, I think, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
After Sunday though, I have a whole new appreciation for parents with small children. I watched other well-behaved children in the church and wondered what the parents did to get them that way. Bribes? Punishments? Food? Books? We would have tried anything. I'm sure that much has to do with personality but there must be something you can do.
The 2 y/o has a favorite word: No. Whenever you tried to get her to be quiet or do anything, out it came. NOoooOOO! NO AMY NO! Meanwhile she would squeal or chatter or make noise in some other way. The 4 y/o wanted to be held, so Annie was occupied, and we were afraid of the terror the child might experience if one of us picked her up and hauled her outside when she doesn't know us. (terror for the child, deafness for the rest of us) The 8 y/o was sulky, with hurt feelings from something or other, and did not want to sit with us. So we were quite the spectacle in the back of the church. I didn't hear a word of the mass- except to catch the part of the Gospel where Jesus said "I praise you Father, for what you have hidden from the wise, you have revealed to the childlike" which made me smile a lot, and wonder what in the world He revealed to these little monsters.
Lots of thoughts.
1.) Get your concentrated praying in while you can! Silence is hard to come by later.
2.) You are providing the people around you with the chance to grow in patience, understanding, and charity. But at a certain point it is perhaps better to head outside with the disobedient one so as to not push the people in front of you past the breaking point.
3.) Being on time would probably have helped a lot... maybe even sitting closer to the front?
4.) Parents have to have sooo much energy.
5.) It's just so tempting to pop in a movie or let them do whatever they want. So tempting. How do you consistently maintain control? Are you ever in control? What is this discipline thing? How does it work? How do you do it?
That was only 4 girls. God bless all parents, especially those with more than 2 kids!
"If they outnumber you, it's bad news." ~my dad

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

food for thought...

My parents always went to Mass separately, while one of them stayed home with the kids, then they switched off. They did that until we were mature enough to go to Mass and behave quietly--out of respect for the other parishoners.

Love ya <3
Anne Marie