Taking the little ones to Mass can be, well, daunting. You may have to explain that the bulletin is not a coloring book and the kneeler is not a trampoline.
[SIDENOTE: It is my humble opinion that any priest who is considering removing the cry room from his parish should be handed a fussy infant and told to keep it quiet for an hour.]
One thing I discovered when my daughters were young is that they had a gift for embarrassing me in church. The older one managed it while still a baby. She decided she wanted to nurse during Mass and so pulled the top of my shirt all the way down to my belly button.
Wait. It gets worse. She did it right in front of Father as I was stepping up to receive Communion. Good thing I was wearing a bra. Father, bless him, pretended not to notice.
Her younger sibling also had talent. One evening when we brought her into church for a vigil Mass, she shouted at the top of her lungs, “No! I thought we were going to Disneyland!”
Boy, did I get a lot of strange looks over that one.
(It was several years before I found out why she shouted this. Apparently her sister had told her that if she had to go somewhere she didn’t want, she should imagine she’s going to Disneyland. I guess she was of the opinion that wishing just made it so.)
Even when kids get past that early stage, Mass can be confusing for them. My older one once asked me what Father was doing during the Consecration. I whispered, “Jesus, through Father, is turning the bread and wine into His Body and Blood.”
Wow, did her eyes widen. She stared at the altar, waiting for this incredible miracle.
You should have seen the look I got after Mass. Eyes full of disbelief, she asked, “Mommy, why did you lie to me?”
I had to take her to Father and have him explain what happens during the Consecration. He told her, “Well, the bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Jesus . . . .”
She glanced back and forth between the two of us. I could tell she wasn’t buying it, was convinced Father and I were in cahoots. Our pleas that this is a miracle where it doesn’t look like anything’s happening fell on deaf ears.
My younger one, upon learning about both God the Father and God the Son concluded that there are two Gods. If you think explaining the Trinity to an adult is hard, try explaining it to a two-year-old.
Fortunately, toddlers grow into older children and you can begin to reason with them.
Then they become teenagers, and you can get back at them for all the embarrassing moments they’ve given you.
All you have to do is hug and kiss them in front of their friends.