Taking the boys to Mass is one heck of an endeavor. It involves snacks, crayons, books, toys, milk, lollipops, and a boat load of humor and patience. And the patience we need is both the "wait and it will come" and the "keep on slogging along" kinds. An hour is a really, really long time for two active boys to be cooped up in a pew. Even with all the earlier mentioned goodies.
We are very lucky in our parish. Most of the people we sit near take great delight in watching the antics taking place in our pew. Father knew our Bigger as "the runner" for a while because he loved nothing more than to take off running down the center aisle. He never made it to the altar but I doubt anyone would have minded much if he did. My philosophy was to let him go, I wasn't going to create more of a scene by chasing after him. And when he always stopped and waited for me to catch up I would squat down next to him and quietly have a little chat about something that was going on before walking back up the aisle. I can count on one hand the number of times we've been given the stink eye for the boys' behavior.
Only once has it been pointed out to me that there is a cry room at the back of the church.
For a while we made use of it. But it has gotten to the point where being back there is just giving them licence to run wild. It's worse if there are other children there too - then they all just feed into each other's craziness. So we made the decision to rejoin the general population. We do our best to keep them quiet and entertained during Mass, hence the arsenal of goodies - crayons and paper during the readings, snack during the homily, a cup of milk after that, and lollipops after Communion if they've been relitively well behaved. And of course the old stand by of taking them out if they get too rowdy. It's a fact that the boys have spent many a consecration in the bathroom.
For me this is where the keep on chugging and keep on bringing them part of patience comes in. How else will they get used to it? As they get older they'll be up to more and more and in the meantime we try to be realistic about to expect. And yes, sometimes they do "play" with their rosaries in church. And no, they are not blessed. But they love them and it keeps them from breaking Mama's. Well, that's the theory anyway, Mama's still got broken this spring and needs someone with better tools than we have to repair it.
What else can we do? Anyone know a patron saint of keeping kids quiet at church? ;-)
And saint-related, I came across this site this weekend - Saints.SQPN.com. Their tag line is "notes about your extended family in heaven" which I just love. It seems to be a great collection of info, indexes (indices?) and picture galleries. I think I will be having some fun playing around there this week :)
(It didn't have anything listed for quiet in church, I did check for that. I suppose I should start with St. Nicholas, patron of children and boys among other things.)