Going to morning Mass with my three-year-old son can be interesting.
While most people rave about his good behavior, he does have his moments (not that I’m expecting anything less from a toddler).
Yesterday, we ran out of milk and he couldn’t have his morning bottle, so he was unusually ornery (yes, I wrote several months ago that we were going to wean him off the bottle but not yet. I just make sure he leaves the bottle in the car when we get to his school!). As soon as we pulled up to the church, he started crying and saying he didn’t want to go to church.
I’ll be honest, he rarely complains. He’s a great sport and usually just finishes off his bottle and lies down on the pew, usually placing his head on my lap, which gets interrupted after the Gospel is read and I have to stand up or kneel. Although sometimes, as I kneel, he tries to wedge himself between the back of the pew in front of us and me or he’ll ask me to carry him when I stand (and he doesn’t take "no" for an answer!). He even occasionally kneels next to me, puts his hands together as if he was praying and looks at me through the corner of his eyes to see if I am looking at him.
In fact, I get a kick whenever he tries to emulate me by genuflecting at the end of Mass as we leave the pew or when he tries to do the sign of the cross with the holy water (although lately he’s been avoiding the holy water like the plague at church. I guess he thinks he gets enough blessings with the holy water before going to sleep each night).
This morning, while he was happy to be at church, he made his presence known. During a moment of silence, while the Deacon approached the pulpit to read the Gospel and the entire congregation was still, he decided to let out some steam. It was a loud and quick burst of air that emanated from his rear end, as he lay peacefully on my lap. Although he occasionally lets one rip at Mass, today’s was unusually loud. Fortunately, there was nobody sitting in the pew in front of us and I was too embarrassed to turn around (thinking they could have thought it was me!). After his little explosion, he looked at me and smiled.
Later, after Communion, as I was kneeling in silence and solemnity, peacefully praying, he began calling me. “Daddy, Daddy!”
When I didn’t pay attention, focusing instead on my prayers as the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ dissolved in my mouth, he started pounding on my head and shoulder. “Daddy, Daddy!” When I finally turned to him to see what the urgency was, he says, “Boo-boo. I have a boo-boo on my finger. I need a band aid.” (He loves wearing band aids, almost as much as he loves taking them off). But, did he really need to tell me at that precise instance? I just had to smile.
At the risk of sounding sappy, for me, one of the greatest blessings God has given me over the past couple of years, is the opportunity to take my son to morning Mass and letting him see his dad on his knees praying to the God of the universe.
As we left church this morning, a thought crossed my mind. Next year, my son starts Pre-K4 at the Catholic school that my girls attend. He will be in school at the time of morning Mass.
Despite his occasional gassiness and interruptions, I will definitely miss the time we share in Mass together every morning…