This past Sunday at church we became... "THAT" family. As per usual we arrived a wee late... we didn't really miss anything, yet late enough that clearly we would not find room on the end of a pew where we would have room for Sam's wheelchair and the rest of us to fit without performing a complex circus act. I believe the Catholic Church frowns upon families balancing one on top of another's shoulders during mass... not to mention what child protective services would think about us not having any trained spotters.
Needless to say, we opted to sit in the foyer or Gathering Space where although you can hear everything you are buffered from the rest of the congregation by large glass windows. We were not alone in the Gathering Space, which is usually the place to be if you arrive late or have small children.
Yup... that's us.
So the boys are behaving and being quiet and just as I am feeling pretty good about our ability to make it through to the end of mass with no major melt downs.... it happens. The unassuming toy car that we allowed Sean to bring into church starts making noses that I didn't know it was capable of. I thought this was a harmless, soft, quiet toy that would keep him busy but quiet for the next 50 minutes. Little did I realize (but Sean was fully aware) that the little car when pulled backwards, following a loud series of clicks, and released... would squeal and lurch and zip across the tile floor and echo the most distracting noises throughout the Gathering Space all to Sean's delight and everyone else's displeasure.
In that instant... we became "THAT" family. You know the family that you continue to discuss over breakfast and either say a prayer for them or hangyour head and sigh... all the while thankful that it is not YOUR family. Pat and I both exchanges loaded glances and although we didn't speak it was clear we were thinking the same thing... do you want to grab it or should I? Is that sound really worse than the screaming that will surely follow? Following our unsuccessful snatch-n-grab, screaming rang through the Gathering Space and brief conversation between Pat and Andrew as to the whereabouts of the baggy of Apple Jacks (that was apparently left in the van somewhere).
We tried to hide the car and that made things even worse. Sean found it every time and his wailing got increasing louder and more pathetic each time we took it away. He finally then threw himself onto the floor in a limp attempt to gain sympathy. I think he was actually ready for a nap but had to put in a good show to save face. We just let him lay there, face down, on the tile floor.
Andrew then starts giggling.
Then Sam wiggles his way out of his wheelchair harness and reaches down and grabs a handful of Sean's hair.
I now have the car stuffed into my coat and am attempting to keep it out of sight, Sean perfectly executed the "stop, drop and flop" maneuver. Sam, feeling a bit left out, is kicking the foot rest on his wheelchair and the sound is resonating loudly throughout the Gathering Space. Andrew is still giggling. Pat has his head bowed in prayer and pretending that he is not related to us... either that or he is asleep on his feet and completely oblivious to the happenings going on around him.
Finally mass has ended. Everyone who leaves after communion is now exiting the sanctuary and entering the Gathering Space. Yet we remain. Patrick, the good Catholic boy that he is, insists on staying until the priest and the gifts exit. Me, the protestant girl, thinks that crisis management is futile at this point and we should just cut our losses get out now. In the swirl of people and commotion I attempt to put the boys coats on. Patrick is still praying. Sean finds a water bottle underneath the wheelchair and is now watering a large potted plant...
We get the boys all loaded into the van and head out for breakfast. Patrick is more alert now and we both know that very soon a large hot cup of coffee will be put in front of us. Once again all is right in the world.
Thank goodness "THAT" family left the premisses.