Whole Parenting Family

My Child at Church = Holy Terror

boys at church

SuperBoy is Mr. Church. He loves church. He loves mass, he loves vespers, he loves Stations of the Cross, he loves anything related to being inside God’s house. He loves our church. He loves our priests. He loves it all. But last Sunday, in sharp contrast to the above norm, he was a holy terror.

It all started because I took him to the bathroom during the sermon instead of his Dada. That was it. Downhill from there. He refused to go in the Ladies’ Room. “Mama, I want to go in the other bathroom.” “Well that’s for men, and when you’re with me, I can’t go in there, so you have to come in here.” “No! I’m a gentleman!!!” Much negotiating later, including threats, he comes in the bathroom. Won’t go. Suddenly doesn’t have to go. No. Can. Do.

We go back up the stairs. He cries because he wants to walk up the stairs from the church basement. It takes him like 30 minutes to do one stair. He cries when we go back down the aisle (why did we sit so far into the church, so far away from the back doors? So far away from the bathroom??). We settle back into the pew. All seems well. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to the consecration. For my non-Catholic readers, this is the most important and quiet and reverent part of the whole shebang. And yes, that’s when my son says in a loud stage whisper “MAMA, I HAVE TO GO POTTY!!!!!!!!” This is the most sacred part of the mass. This is when I get death looks from the reverent worshippers around me.

I hesitate. Then hustle him out of the pew. Then drag him, his limp, sad little body a sack of potatoes, lift him, somehow get him down the very very long aisle to the back of the church, then downstairs AGAIN a battle, to the bathroom.

No potty. He tried. He cried. I cried. The old lady in the bathroom who wanted to discuss his cute outfit almost cried. It was a failed attempt. We almost didn’t make it back up stairs in time for communion. There was wailing. And gnashing of teeth.

I realized: I’m that parent. The one with the unruly child I’ve been secretly judging. Well now judge away at me. You cannot control your child’s reactions to unwanted circumstances. And for the record, his Dada and he subsequently had a successful potty experience in the Gent’s bathroom after communion. I guess the moral of the story is, don’t change up your child’s routine at mass, especially if it has been working. And don’t take a 2.7 year old into the Ladies’ Room unwillingly. It will only backfire.


  1. Tasslyn on March 19, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Ok, so we are Episcopal so there isn’t usually a first communion. After my experience with Perrin, our priest may be rethinking this. Perrin was about 4 – usually we had bread. This time they switched it up – a host wafer instead. Our church is about 10 pews long – old fashioned country church. I’ve got Eowyn in my arms – and Perrin and I make our way up for communion. Perrin takes the host but has a funny expression on his face. We get back to the pew after communion. Lots of quiet praying all around us. Perrin decides to share: “Mama. Jesus is crunchy.” Then, he continues with delight, “Crunchy Jesus!”

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 19, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Oh my goodness that is hilarious! This is how we know God has a sense of humor. Perrin is so funny!!

  2. Kristi on March 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I am prodestant and had the same experience long ago with my son, only we were at our church’s Christmas Eve service. We were all dressed up for the occassion and the church was packed, but during every quiet prayer my toddler son would jump up and down in the pew playing peek-a-boo with the people behind him. I think his dad and I were sweating by the time it was over, trying to convince him it wasn’t “play time” during church. Before we could turn around and apologize to the people behind us, they tapped us on the shoulder and told us what a delight our son was! I couldn’t believe it! Now he is almost 21 and getting As in Honor’s College at our local university. I tell you, it is worth every moment, good and bad. Enjoy their childhood!!

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 19, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Kristi–what a sweet heart! And how great that your pew neighbors understood that a little peek-a-boo is not to be discouraged, but showed his love of life! That’s fabulous. Great reminder on enjoying these precious moments. You must be very proud of your son!

  3. Hannah on March 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    At mass this past weekend, Hannabert felt that the communion song was a bit too short so he supplemented it with a loud singing of “Alleluia” at the top of his lungs. At the end of reflection, our priest got up, looking at our section, made an announcement of how joyous children are and how he wants them to participate in mass and that the cry room was for troublesome behavior and that he didn’t want parents to hide for the total mass. At the end, my son loudly shouted “YEAH” and clapped.

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      OMG I love that!!! What a honey. And what a great priest. That’s precisely the attitude I subscribe to at mass. Keep the kids near the altar for all those graces. So cute.