“Please will you and your family bring the offering to the priest during mass” the usher invited me as I sat with my family and Kai (the plastic red ninja figurine from ninjago) in our usual pews at our usual 10:00am church service.
My smile, nod and mumbled “sure” belied the “Please don’t ask me to do that!” thought that was swiftly followed with “This is all Carrie’s fault… here we go again… todays unmitigated Templer family disaster will unfold before 600 people who, given that nothing else will be going on in the church at that particular moment, will be giving us the undivided attention.” I looked forlornly across at Carrie and our admittedly really cute and well-attired children and reminded myself of one of our family mantras… not the “be kind, be kind and be kind” one, rather “suck it up princess”.
Some background: For years Carrie and I had sparred over what was appropriate garb for our weekly Sunday hour at the Big Guy’s House. Carrie thinks we should dress up… I tend to lean towards being more comfortable. Given that I accept I am seriously haute couture-ly challenged (I honestly don’t get why a paisley shirt, madras shorts and smart flip flops don’t go together), our Sunday mornings usually go something like this:
- Between 0300hrs and 0400hrs one or more pre-8 year old children make their way into our room
- By 0700hrs Jack (6) will start bugging us for Special Sunday Family Breakfast
- By 0830hrs we will be munching our way through fresh fruit, pancakes, sausages and Dad’s Scrambled Eggs
- By 0900hrs Carrie be washing syrup, egg, ketchup and/or jelly off all three kids
- By 0930hrs Carrie will have washed and dressed herself and the three kids. Jack in his loafers, khaki pants and button down oxford, the girls in pretty frocks and Carrie… well Carrie always looks good
- By 0930hrs, I’ll have washed the syrup, egg, ketchup and/or jelly off myself and begun Carrie and my weekly ritual: first outfit… eye roll… second outfit usually includes a hint… “really, that shirt?”… if I get to a third outfit that doesn’t work, she’ll just shrug her shoulders and say “well… it’s between you and God” and leave it at that…
- By 0945hrs I usually join the rest of the family in the car dressed in an outfit that I’m pretty confident God will approve of
- Mass starts at 1000hrs
So now as 1030hrs drew near and I prepared myself for the impending doom that surely was going to accompany my kids playing a public role at church… I was already planning my response to the mildly inauthentic child chorus “Sorry” that would surely follow whatever shenanigans they got up to.
“If we’d just worn Jeans like I wanted to, we’d never have been asked…” Mumble, mumble, mumble. And then it was game time:
Katelyn got there first… they handed her the wine… phew, less chance we’ll have to pay to get someone in the congregation’s laundry dry-cleaned.
Jack was handed a big platter with all the wafers on it (I’m Catholic and call the bread “those little wafers” before the priest does his thing).
Carrie and Erin… wait a minute… why were they all smiling?
Time slowed… the priest was beckoning us on… I couldn’t decide if Jack resembled a tightrope walker or someone trying to clear a minefield with the focused attention he was placing upon his responsibility of getting the little wafers safely to the priest.
We made it. We got there and even made it back to our seats without any drama. There was no need for the “sorry” chorus. In fact, from the outside looking in, they all looked pretty impressed with themselves. I said “well played buddy” to Jack, he nodded and gave a perfunctory “thanks” and turning to Carrie, beamed and in his best outside voice “Mom… Angry Bird fist bump” As they gleefully Angry Bird fist bumped…
I’m still trying to figure out how I’d let myself get in my own way to the degree my five year old son thought that perfunctory “thanks” was for appropriate for me… why didn’t I get an Angry Bird fist bump?