If parenthood were a corporate America type of job, my wife and I would never earn a promotion. We do satisfactory work at most levels of the job description, but we constantly come up short in one area which our employer would consistently note as “opportunity for improvement.”
We need to take our kids to church more often.
Every Christmas our kids expose this flaw when they stare blankly at a Nativity scene and can’t properly identify the main character, the baby in the manger. “Joseph? An angel? Rudolph? Oh yeah, Jesus! Umm…who’s Jesus?”
Convenient that Christmas comes right before Resolution Season, which opens Jan 1…after suffering mortifying embarrassment over the absence of Jesus in our lives, we vow that this is the year we get back on track. Until the first cold Sunday in January, and then we’re off the wagon again.
This has got to stop and stop right now. Well, not right now, there are no churches open at 11:30PM Sunday. But this week. Resolved: By advent, our kids will know their Lord and Savior, without us having to spot them the J-E-S-U.
There really are no excuses due to the Catholic Church enacting what the corporate world would call “flexible hours.” Our church schedules a daily Mass –including the spectacularly under-attended Saturday evening Mass– plus a full menu of Sunday services…7:30, 9:30, 11:30. So you really can go every day and thrice on Sunday. My wife warns me that “not all of those daily Masses count” toward your weekly obligation, but God is not keeping score, right? It’s still good to know Bonus Church is available for those who need it.
Admittedly there is no tougher parenting hour in the week than the hour+ at church. We strip our kids of every electronic item they own, make them wear uncomfortable clothes, and expect them to sit in silence for longer than they can usually go between trips to the bathroom. We also warn about how we should act in “God’s House” and enforce the rules more strictly than the TSA, which results in tears often before we even enter the building. Who signs up for that?
But it must be done, and it can be done. We have had success in the past with the CPCPC seating arrangement, where C = Child, P= Parent, and we stick the youngest in the middle, in case he rises and tries to pull a Greg Louganis off the front of the pew. This leaves the two older kids, both sweating, panting, and jittery from digital withdrawal at either end of the formation, where they cannot pull one another’s hair, only one of ours.
Other families try the PCCCP arrangement, but that leaves scant coverage in the middle of the formation. Sure, if Dad’s arms are long enough, he can still smack the middle C in the back of the head for getting out of line, but usually not before the entire bag of Skittles has cascaded out onto the wooden church floor. At that time the family scraps PCCCP in favor of some sort of hybrid, such as PCCPC or CPCCP, but all control has been lost.
It used to be that such defensive tactics were not necessary, that a family of five could sit in any formation and the dad could just flash some “look” to his kids that said, “One false move and when we get home all your asses will be so magenta you’ll have thought you fell asleep face down in the shower.” But those days of tough love and tougher discipline seem to be over, since every time I give my kids that “look,” they laugh and stick their tongue out at me. So we play defense instead.
Nobody said this would be easy, but in order to raise kids properly, we need to prove ourselves in front of God and everybody. Or at least God. And we really want to earn that promotion, the one that results in no extra pay and more responsibility. We really want that, right?