Sometimes I Can Be Hard-of-Learning

August 15, 2008 @ 7:34 pm | Filed under: , ,

Today was the Solemnity of the Assumption, a holy day for us. We went to the 9 a.m. Mass at the chapel of a local nursing home run by Carmelite sisters. The kids and I sat in the last row, but the boy grew too noisy, and I had to take the two little ones out to the lobby. By “too noisy” I mean he’s in this phase where his favorite favorite thing is to ruff-ruff like a puppy. There we were in this tiny little chapel full of nuns and elderly people, and my son was barking. During the homily. Embarrassing much? You could say that.

So I spent the rest of Mass in the lobby, my cheeks burning, trying to keep the barking to a whisper. Trouble is, Wonderboy can’t HEAR a whisper. This has a somewhat limiting effect upon his desire to vocalize sotto voce. I was kicking myself for not getting the crew up and out early enough to make the 8 a.m. Mass at our own parish, which has a soundproofed cry room.

When Mass was over, the priest, an elderly fellow himself, walked straight through the chapel doors to the lobby where I was standing. He smiled at us, shook my hand, admired the beautiful children. I apologized for Wonderboy’s noise.

The priest held a hand to his ear.

“Eh? What’s that?” he shouted, in the unmistakable tones of the hard-of-hearing.

It is impossible for me to convey the deliciousness of that moment. In an instant, my mortification was gone. Of course I still wished that Wonderboy had kept quiet (he’s been so good during Sunday Mass the last couple of months—and we sit right near the front of the church, not in the cry room, which is a rowdy, unpleasant place on a Sunday), but I realized once again what experience has taught me so many times. We’re never as great a nuisance as I think we are in situations like this. Hardly ever is anyone judging us as sternly as I am, behind my flaming cheeks.

“What’s that you said?” the priest repeated.

I raised my voice, as if I were talking to my semi-deaf son. “I’M SORRY MY LITTLE BOY WAS SO NOISY DURING MASS!”

The priest gave a hearty laugh. “It’s not like I would notice!”

He laid a hand on Wonderboy’s head, gnarled fingers patting the white-blond hair above the blue hearing aids.

“My brother had fourteen children,” he said. “Fourteen nieces and nephews, I had. Now those children could make some noise!”

The congregation began to file out: white-haired ladies with walkers, old men leaning on canes, beaming Carmelite sisters in their brown habits—every one of them stopping to smile at the children, ruffle a head of hair, shake a hand. There was no hint of reproof or censure in anyone’s manner: only warm smiles, friendly greetings, huge peals of laughter when Wonderboy, God bless him, ruff-ruffed at them. These good souls seemed universally delighted to see—and yes, even hear—youngsters in the aisles of their nursing home which, perhaps, come to think of it, is sometimes all too quiet.

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20 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Jessica Snell says:

    Thank you for this post – I linked to it over on my blog.

  2. Diane says:

    What a sweet reflection of your day, which was most certainly a holy one. God bless those little ones and those not-so-little ones and the lessons they teach us.

  3. patience says:

    Ooh, this is the sort of post that thrills me right through to my toes. It seems so *right* to encounter such loving attitudes on this day in particular.

  4. Jamie says:

    Ohh boy did I need this post today. I ran to Mass at noon yesterday. Just me and my 6 month old little darling (btw yesterday was the ten year anniversary of my baptism!) He is usually such a good little creature, but yesterday, in a half filled, very echoey church he was a WILD CHILD!!!! We had to step out three times (also this was a VERY QUIET LOW MASS…latin).
    After mass we had to run to BabiesRUs and we saw a lady from church who said, “Oh didn’t we just see you at mass?” and I replied, “Yes, I am the one with the loud baby..” and she just smiled politely.
    Talk about burning cheeks!

  5. Margaret in Minnesota says:

    Isn’t it something what our imaginations can do to us?

    Happy Feast, Lissa! This is a beautiful story and I have been there many times over.

    PS. Please give your little man a pat on his white-blond tufts for me.

  6. Karen Edmisten says:

    Oooh, goosebumps and tears all in one post. Thank you.

  7. Activities Coordinator says:

    I had a pew swinger whose favorite thing to do was jump up and down on the kneeler. It was mortifying. But guess what? The bolt of lightning never came, so I reckon He didn’t mind. 🙂

  8. BethG. says:

    I had a similar experience when we missed the 7:30AM Ash Wednesday service and attended the 6pm service, which I assumed (you know where this is going) was just like the 7:30AM– in and out in about 15 minutes. So, thinking we would easily be home by dinner, I gathered the two kids and headed out. As we entered the church I slowly and painfully realized it was the Taize service, combined with Ash Wednesday.

    It went as could be expected at a quiet, calm, adult, 15 people sitting in a circle facing each other setting– my children, on the other hand, were pretending they were pieces of spaghetti sliding out of chairs, asking embarrassing questions about an elderly gentleman’s oxygen tank, a fight breaking out over a mood ring, and lots of complaints of hunger.

    As we left, I apologized and thanked several folks for their kindness and patience. And to me deep gratitude and surprise, they thanked me instead for bringing the kids and how much they enjoyed having them there. I remember walking out and being so pleased by such a radical welcome that I felt– as it should be at church!

  9. Gail says:

    My little boy likes to meow during Mass, so I understand your embarrassment at the barking. One morning when I had to take him out of the pew, he was literally crawling like a cat to the back (I think I was carrying a baby so I couldn’t pick him up too) and meowing, and one of the ushers (smilingly) said, “Is Jeffrey pretending to be a cat again?” So apparently his behavior had been noticed on other occassions.

  10. Meredith says:

    If you only knew how much this post meant to me today!


  11. Mary N. says:

    I haven’t commented before, but I loved this post so much I had to reply.

    Your kind, loving priest reminded me of the verse that states:

    Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Mamalion says:

    I’ve had one stand up on my lap in the middle of the minister’s prayer and point at the lion banner up front and shout the only word she knows at the top of her lungs, “Doggie!” And 4 rows around us burst into laughter.

    This is also the selfsame child who, during her baptism spent the whole solemn ceremony wanting up, then down, then up, then down. She also tried to unbutton my dress, and capped off the performance by growling repeatedly at the congregation from my arms. I was trying really hard not to crack up laughing from embarrassment, and dh is squeezing my hand, signaling ‘What’s wrong with you?’ After, a kindly woman came up and said, ‘Half the mothers in the congregation were up there with you today!’ Needless to say, her sister was barely 2 weeks old when she was baptized.

  13. amy says:

    Sounds like a precious moment!

    I am mother of three, two of which are hearing impaired. They got hearing aids when they were 2 and 3 years old. They will be a junior and senior this year in High School.

    You brought back some tender memories.

    peace to you.

  14. Steve the llamabutcher says:

    So you learned an important lesson about Assumptions…

  15. Rachel M says:

    At out church they pass a tray with pieces of bread on it for the sacrament. A few weeks ago my little guy grabbed a fistful, and in case nobody noticed, he shouted, “I got lots!” In the middle of the silent sacrament service. Just like you, I was embarrassed, and just like you, I discovered that there was more amusement and commiseration than condemnation. I truly thank the Lord to be able to worship with people who love Him and really “get” what it means to be Christian.

  16. KC says:

    Beautiful post, Lissa. It brought tears to my eyes.

  17. Marsha says:

    Yesterday, my oldest started getting upset while the offering was being taken. She wasn’t exactly discreet about it either, she was afraid I wouldn’t have any left to buy her something! Every week there is something, it seems. And you are right, I notice more than anyone I guess.

    I loved this post and may link to it on my blog as well.

  18. Molly says:

    Our experience on this particular Feast Day was a “disaster” in terms of our kids’ mass behavior. Four separate times during the mass our entire family (all six of us) had to leave our pew (in the third row!) to deal with “issues” of various kinds. Thanks for reminding me that it’s likely that I’m more annoyed by my kids’ whining and pew aerobics than the people around me are! There’s a blurry line for me in terms of what behaviors are acceptable for my kids based on their personalities and age, etc. I want them to learn respect and reverence, but sometimes I expect too much. thanks for a great post!

  19. mamacrow says:

    ‘The bolt of lightning never came’

    Oh yes AC how true!

  20. Rachel says:

    what a heartwarming post!