We make a conscious effort to take the kids to church as much as possible despite that fact the experience is far from reverent.
The act of actually getting out of the house with everyone looking presentable is no small feat in and of itself. Then we have to make sure we have accouterments like Goldfish, fruit snacks and water. Once the food runs out, there needs to entertainment and I still have yet to allow my kids to play with my iPhone during mass. I guess I am a little old fashioned that way, but I find myself pulling out the quintessential parenting line, “We never had fancy things like that to play with in church when I was your age. We were expected to sit quietly and pay attention to what the priest was saying.”
I’ll admit for a while, we just didn’t even bother bringing Colin because he was such a nuisance. They have childcare at the church, but I was always worried he would bite someone and there would be no way for them to locate me in the church. I could just imagine the priest stopping his homily to announce that my son had bit someone and that he was going to Hell. I’m hoping we all make it to heaven together with no man, or 3-year old boy, left behind. Now that he goes, he spends most of the time asking questions like, "Who's that dead guy on the cross and why is he bleeding." Or, "Why is the priest wearing a dress?" When he's not asking questions, he's usually saying the word, "EVIL" really loud at the end of the "Our Father."
Now Madelyn, on the other hand, has become quite the mini-Church Lady and lives for going to “Church School,” which is the children’s liturgy where kids ages 4 and up can leave right before the first reading and have their own lesson downstairs. She always comes back beaming and has made at least 3-4 new girlfriends in the process. I often wonder how much she gets out of it, but she usually can reiterate what she learned each week, so I know she isn’t socializing the whole time.
Another clue she is paying attention is her recent inquiry about the end of the world. I was standing in the kitchen a few weeks ago and Maddie approached me and asked if the world was really going to end four days before Christmas. My eyes bugged out of my head and I almost choked on my coffee. “Where did you hear that?” I asked. I wondered if she heard it on the news or something when I wasn’t paying attention.
“I heard it at Church School,” she said with a worried look on her face.
“From one of the other kids?”
“No, from the teacher,” she said nonchalantly.
Steam immediately came from my ears, I was sure of it. What kind of grown person with half a brain tells a bunch of kids that the world might end four days before Christmas? While I know that as Catholics, we are taught that Jesus will come again in glory, but I’m not sure how mentioning the end of the world to a bunch of kids is a good way to get this message across. Let’s face it, all those kids heard was, “You’re all gonna die and there will be no Christmas.” They might as well have thrown in that there is no Santa Claus while they were at it. I even considered writing a strongly worded letter to the Pastor, but decided just to let it go.
I tried to explain the Mayan Calendar and their prophesy to Maddie. I told her how there have been several other predictions that the world was going to end, and it never happened. She looked confused and finally simply asked, “Is the world going to end at some time?” Man, I miss the easy questions like, “Why is the sky blue?”
Of course, none of us knows that, but if she keeps hearing about this “Second Coming of Christ” throughout her life, I need to provide some answers. I finally explained that IF the world ends, then Jesus will come back and we will all go to heaven together and get to see all our family and friends in heaven, including Taz and Kira (the dogs we’ve had to put down in the last 2 years.) Of course, this doesn’t take away the impending lack of Christmas, so I told her to just not worry about it and enjoy life.
In the midst of all this “End of the World” talk, I had some unusual occurrences involving my Grandfather. Since his passing 16 years ago, I have always had several moments where I feel his presence or I see someone who looks like him. Most of the time, once I really look at the man who has a similar walk, is wearing the same hat he used to wear, or haircut, I realize they don’t look that much him at all. However, last Thursday when I was going to pick Colin up from school I looked over at the car next to me at the stoplight and there was a man who looked EXACTLY like my grandfather, right down to the glasses and hat. I had to do a double take and when I was finished picking my jaw up off the steering wheel I managed to grab my phone to take a picture.
I was a little concerned that this man would think I was a completely lunatic taking a picture of him, but I was also kind of hoping that, given his age, he would have no clue that “phones these days” could take pictures. I managed to get a good shot of him before the light turned green and without him noticing me. I promptly texted it to my mom to get a second opinion. I have to admit, I was a little worried that when I looked at the picture I had taken, that no one would appear. However, there he was clear as can be and my even my mom agreed and told me to send it to my brothers. Of course, once this gentleman’s car was in the lane behind me, I noticed it was a Toyota and my grandpa would never be caught dead driving a foreign car. Oh, wait, he is dead?! Perhaps it was manufactured in the United States? That was the only reason my husband (who is incredibly similar to my grandfather) would let me buy my Honda Odyssey.
What made it even more unusual was that his 93rd birthday would have been on Sunday and I had been praying to him for good weather because I was helping plan a 5k race that day. I assured my committee that based on my grandpa’s track record helping out with weather from heaven over the last few years, we’d be in good shape. As luck would have it, it was 60 degrees the day of the race.
But the oddities didn’t stop there. On Friday morning, I got to the bus stop and my neighbors pointed out the unusual rainbow up above. I looked up into the blue sky, where there was barely a cloud, and there was an upside down rainbow. I had never seen or even heard of such a thing! I immediately snapped a picture and sent it my mom, aunt, brothers and cousins who I had shared the picture of my “grandpa” with from the day before. We came to the general consensus that Pa was smiling down on us. Of course, with Maddie continuing to ask about the end of the world, I was hoping all this wasn’t a sign that Pa was sending that we’d see him soon…like on December 21st.
I entered into the weekend extremely stressed out not only because I was knee deep in 5k planning and coordinating last minute details, but I also had to teach two Cycle classes Saturday morning, head home to get ready and pick up Maddie to go to my cousin’s baby shower, then get home so Tom could run to the gym and I could secure more fruit for the next morning because we had a surge of registrations for the 5k that day at packet pickup. Of course, that also meant a database had to be created since the team working packet pickup was deluged and couldn’t build it for me. I ended up typing it up all while Tom cleaned the house and made dinner because just in case I didn’t have enough going on, I agreed to host a jewelry party at my house immediately following the race.
By the grace of God, a wonderful husband and likely a little help from Pa, everything got done and I more than survived the weekend…the race was a huge success and I got to have a wonderful time with some good food, good friends and family.
After all is said and done, I don’t really care if the world ends in a few weeks. I am comfortable with my place in this world and that those I hold most dear to me, living and dead, will be with me in the end. In the mean time, I am going to count my blessings, value the time I do have on this earth and take comfort in the fact that no matter what, I’ve got someone up there looking out for me. Even though several years have passed and I still miss him every single day, I know he’s never very far away. And just in case ever do forget, he’ll be sure to send me a friendly reminder.