Just Write: Angel, Imp, Trouble

Don’t let my angelic exterior fool you. Wait a minute, what am I saying? Yes! I am an angel…I am an angel…you will not notice my impish tendencies…

I’m teaching at a liturgical music camp this week, and yesterday afternoon we did an icebreaker game  in which we had to tell as many things about ourselves as we had M&Ms in our cup. Alex watched with fascination and then, giggling, whispered to me that one of my things should be to say I had four children and they were all named Trouble. 🙂

It seems appropriate given Little Miss’s Sunday morning shenanigans. We’ve been assured and reassured that she’s really no trouble in Children’s Liturgy–certainly no more than any other, typically-developing, child–so we let her go by herself this week. Alex saw that we weren’t following and decided to go with her. Fifteen minutes later, I had my flute at my lips and was breathing in to start the preparation song when Alex came down the aisle at a dead run. “Mommy, I need you to come NOW! I’m having trouble with Julianna!”

I slipped my flute back on its peg and started around the perimeter of the church, hand in hand with my firstborn. But when I got to the back and saw what he meant by “trouble,” I broke into a run. Julianna had commandeered some poor elderly lady’s “rollator” and was pushing it around while Alex’s first grade teacher was trying, gently and unsuccessfully, to separate the two of them without making a scene.

Julianna only gave a halfhearted howl when I pried her hands off it. She knows better. Stinker. You think she’s not aware of her disability? She knows exactly how to use it to her advantage.

Photo by Steve Snodgrass, via Flickr

After Mass, we let the kids wander while we packed up books and instrument. When we got ready to leave, I saw Julianna by the “gifts table,” studying the heavy pitcher of wine as if to measure whether she was strong enough to pick it up. She saw me coming and hastily redirected, snagging the small wooden cross they lay out for a family to pick up as a sign that they’ll bring up the gifts. She took that cross, held it up in front of her, and sedately and deliberately began processing down the main aisle, a miniature altar server in red ladybugs and white tulle.

As I stood there with exasperation and amusement and awe swirling around each other, a woman caught me by the arm and said in a voice heavy with disapproval, “Your daughter was into the Communion hosts. You might want to keep an eye on her.”

If I had reacted as I wanted to–by laughing out loud–I would have confirmed that we are Those Parents–the ones who won’t control their wild children in public. I wanted to take her by the arms and say, don’t you see that? Don’t you see how big a deal it is? She’s paying attention at Mass. She thinks it’s cool enough to imitate and want to experience herself. Sure, one of her phrases is “go-church” (sounds more like “go–dyoo”), but until this moment, I had no idea she was processing what happens under this roof at all!

Besides, it’s so stinking cute! How can I discipline such cuteness?

Just Write