Monday, January 14, 2008
Wake Up Call
I think I mentioned that I am not a morning person. I've never been a morning person. I was asleep at my desk as a child. For my entire adult life I've had to pretend to be a morning person, which I don't think I could do without drugs. A drug. Caffeine. I'm actually blind until I have a cup of coffee.
My mother gave me coffee as a child. I couldn't eat breakfast food without it. The idea of a glass of milk (which I enjoyed with every other meal) with breakfast caused me to turn up my nose at a slice of toast. That was my breakfast everyday, toast and coffee. I now realize that I wasn't drinking coffee, I was drinking milk and sugar with coffee in it.
Every single morning we tromped off to school, went into our classrooms, then lined up and tromped back out of the school across the street to church and went to Mass. Then we all tromped back over to school and went to the cafeteria and had an Underbrink's Bakery cinnamon roll, because back then you couldn't eat before Communion for several days. No...I'm kidding. Just several hours. The first and pre-First Communion second graders got a free Underbrink's Bakery ride. When we had a free day due to a Holy Day of Obligation, we had to tromp off to Mass from home.
Eventually, we stopped going to Mass first and started going to Mass before lunch instead. Then it was Mass, lunch, recess. I'll come back to this after we take a look at today's question, which has caused quite a bit of discussion:
I have a question which I hope will be short and easy. Maybe you can answer between dusting pews and airing Sister Mary Fiacre. Is everyone else with kids constantly baraged on Sunday mornings by "But I dont want to go to Mass" and "I am tired and I need to sleeeeep" or is that just me? Where did I go wrong? Because the catholic blogging moms (esp the homeschool ones) seem to never mention children who complain about going to Mass, how long Mass lasts and etc.
You call that easy? I think the only thing that stopped us from complaining on all of those cold, cold Midwest mornings was the fact that we were going, no matter what, and there would be pastry at the end.
But let me tell you of my terrible Mass allergy.
I used to get sick at Mass on a daily basis. I was very small, so I don't remember everything about what all went on. I'm pretty sure I had breakfast (toast and coffee) every day before I went to school, so I wasn't sick from being hungry. And when I upchucked at Mass...well, something came up.
So at some point, I was the only child allowed to not go to Mass, which I didn't mind one little bit. I was glad to not get sick every day and the Mass was so boring. Still in Latin, with the priest miles away behind the Communion rail, his back to us most of the time. There I stood, sat, knelt, stood, knelt, stood, sat, knelt, with the snow melting off my red rubber boots. If I wasn't paying attention and put my feet on the kneelers when I sat I would then get to kneel in cold sooty water. I do all of that and then I get to throw up, too? Oh boy! Where do I sign up?!
So I sat alone in the first grade room and then met up with everyone for the Underbrink's. Underbrink's is still there, by the way, and still so very, very good. When my parents had their 60th wedding anniversary last September, guess where we got the cake?
I can't think that anyone babysat me, but someone must have. Surely they wouldn't have let a six year old alone for the better part of an hour. But back then no one dreamed of putting a seat belt on a child in a car or making sure the driver was sober. Back then it was actually a sort of manly pride issue. "I can drive!" So maybe I was alone.
I wonder why they didn't just let me leave for school later. Then I could have slept in! Maybe I would have been awake at my desk!
It didn't end there. Periodically, throughout my life, I have simply keeled over at Mass. Usually, I manage to get outside before I pass out. If I get out soon enough, once I hit the outside air, I avoid actually hitting the pavement. But I have hit the pavement.
I'm not suggesting that at this point I ever want to skip Mass. No.
What I am saying is that I am just the wrong person to ask this question. Getting up early and tromping off to Mass was not my idea of a good time when I was a child and I sympathize 100% with your whining children. And look how I turned out! (Except for the fainting from time to time.) As a child, the 10 o'clock Mass made all the difference and so did going at lunch time on school days. By then I was awake, and not blind.
I don't think children should skip Mass. It's the Main Event in Catholic life and the life of the family.
Here's my advice, for what it's worth. Let them whine. Don't answer their whining and don't punish them. Just get everybody ready for Mass and go.
Child: Do we have to go to Mass?
You: Yes, we're all going.
Child: I don't want to go.
You: We're all going. Start getting ready. Where are your shoes?
Child: I'm tired. I want to sleep.
You: We're all going. Let's get ready.
And on and on like that.
Hum a merry tune to yourself and stay cheerful. Find some great pastry afterward. Enlist the help of the Pillsbury dough boy.
We've also been discussing children at Mass in general. I have quite a lot to say about that.