About every 30…seconds, I come across a situation with my kids that I am completely unprepared for. There’s no rhyme or reason to it to–one minute you’re skating through life patting yourself on the back for having remembered to pack snacks, drinks and extra diapers, and the next thing you know, they’ve pooped all over themselves and you forgot to bring an extra shirt.
That’s the way it is. It happened again this weekend, and in perhaps one of the worst places…
As I’ve blogged before, CareerMom and I are in a constant search for the perfect church. She’s a reformed Catholic (what does that mean, “Reformed”?) and I’m a doubting Pentecostal. What this means to us is that we’re looking for a medium-sized church with progressive music and members who won’t notice, or make a big fuss, if we happen to miss a Sunday (or um…two) in a row because we wanted to get up and actually enjoy our Sunday morning rather than creating a HUGE scene while trying to get both ourselves and our kids ready and off to children’s church where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth at having left them at the hands of yet another bunch of strangers.
So sue me if we’d rather relax at home.
Anyway, there’s a church near our house that looked promising. It’s one of those “Harvest” churches, which in my experience, means it branched off a really large Pentecostal church at some time in the past and is in the process of growing into a new one. Typically, these churches start out by renting office space in strip malls on the weekends until they can gen up enough members (who tithe) to build out their own building. Well, this church is already in the “We own our own building” phase and it looked really nice. Their Web site looked good, if perhaps a bit vague on the details. But I announced to CareerMom that I wanted to try it, so this Sunday we did the deed and showed up on time, with good looking boys in tow.
First impressions as we walk in:
- “Hmmm, lots of people from different cultures. That’s cool. Lots of young people too. The music should be good.”
- “Honey, no one else here has their kids with them.”
“I know,” says CareerMom, “but I’m not leaving them at the childcare facility. Plus, if we hate it, they make a good excuse to leave.”
- “Oooh, it looked a LOT bigger on the outside. Not…sure…I’m gonna…like this. Too many people…!”
- “Holy crap that music is LOUD! Is this a Pearl Jam concert or church?” (I look over at CareerMom who’s holding MLE and she gives me a winning smile, but I can see the tenseness in her face)
- “OMG! That dude behind us is REALLY getting into it. OK seriously, I’m into praising God and all, but when you start hollering at the top of your lungs and hopping up and down like Little Bunny Foo-Foo–well, that’s’ when I start getting worried!”
By this point, both boys are sitting there on the pew with their fingers in their ears because the music is so loud and Evil Knieval is behind us doing his stunt show for Jesus and I can tell already that I hate it.
But then, I notice the “Little Person” in the row behind us. Aw crap!
I casually look down at the boys and MLI has noticed him, but is politely not staring. Not so with MLE. MLE has completely turned around and crawled up on the pew–thanks to the help of the “Little Man”–and is leaning against the back of the pew staring the man down like he just stole his lollipop!
God Bless the Little Man though. He gave MLI a big smile and put out his hand for a “Gimme five,” which MLE promptly smacked, and with that, the two of them became best friends. Oh, MLE still stared, but it was more of a, “Hey man, let’s play” kind of look rather than a, “Hey man, didn’t I see you in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” kind of way.
In this instance, my lack of reaction turned out to be the best thing to do. That way, I didn’t make a big fuss and embarrass anyone (mostly myself), and the boys learned a valuable lesson about different people.
When we got to the car–about 15 minutes later after CareerMom left with the boys who both still had their fingers in their ears, and after I made a seemingly casual, “Oh, let me go check on my family” departure–MLI’s first question was about the man and I explained his condition as best I could with little or no medical knowledge to back it up. He seemed good with it. I was proud of both the boys, but I am left with a feeling of discontent that perhaps the man thought the reason we left was because of him. No, the reason we left was because the church was too crazy for us. I feel bad about that and I hope he didn’t take offense.
I completely give people with his condition props for getting out in a world that is certainly not geared for people their size and as much as I get annoyed at the media and the way they treat men, I’m sure it REALLY drives him crazy.
So, “Little Dude” if there’s a chance in heaven you’re reading this…I apologize if our leaving made you feel bad in any way. You seemed really cool!
5 thoughts on “What do you do when…”
Whenever I’m faced with the “different” people I find that a genuine smile and a “How-do-you-do ” and a handshake usually breaks the ice for everyone involved. A smile and a handshake can change the world! Really!
I was actually thinking about you when I was watching my nieces 1, 2 and 3 year olds this weekend. I had never watched three at the same time before. My kids are 11 years apart, so like only children. Let’s just say I was feeling a little more sympathetic to your plight than I did originally:) I actually think men handle things so much better than women in a lot of situations — or maybe just this woman — lol.
I wouldn’t think twice about the little man. We all view our lives through our own filter and there’s not a thing you can do about his filter! The church sounded pretty fun to me:)
RE: That age grouping would be really tough. I think it’s interesting though, to think that we, as a country, have brought this on ourselves. Go back 40 years. Mom’s at home with the kids and dad works. Nobody was schlepping 2 or 3 kids around to various sports activities. Heck, even in the 70s and 80s I was lucky if I played one sport a year, much less one per season. You didn’t have Homeowner’s Associations dropping nasty-grams on your doorstep if you didn’t mow your grass that week; you weren’t worried about “upgrading” your house with every extra dime you earned because nobody considered their house their #1 Investment, and you certainly didn’t get into arguments with your spouse over whose turn it was to do so and so because the roles were very clearly defined.
Now, I’m not saying the definitions were fair, because there are tasks that men and women can easily do as well as the other, but things were simpler.
I had a discussion this week with CareerMom about the economy and how screwed we would be if either of us lost our job for more than six months. And I bet there are a lot of people in our situation. Things are just waaay more difficult these days. But you know, there is some attraction to the Menonite way of life (note I didn’t say Amish…cuz I have to have my A/C!).
My parents often retell the story of when I was just a wee-lad (preschool or younger) – that a particularly obese woman was walking up the isle for Eucharist when out of no-where I YELLED…
“Hey, look… There goes a big fat mamma!”
People from all over church turned to see what sort of nasty little child would say such a horrible thing, and what kind of deranged parents would raise such a nasty little creature.
(Well, everyone EXECPT “Big Fat Mamma” who (I imagine) was too embarrassed to acknowledge having heard me.)
Needless to say my parents were horrified, and (possibly as a means of retribution, or as a joke that only he and I can laugh at) God has smite me with “a little extra baggage” of my own!!
I am not a member of any church–I worship God alone, in my own way. But I have been going to a United Methodist church’s singles group, off and on, for about ten years. There’s a mentally-retarded woman, Winnie, who has been attending for about five. In the past, I’ve wondered what she was doing there, and been slightly annoyed. She literally has half-a-brain–she was obviously born this way (half her skullcap is missing). And she’s expressive, so listening to her requires alot of patience.
But over time, I’ve become more accepting. And the main reason, ironically, is how the other people in the group treat her. Most just ignore her, but some really make-over her. And they do it in the most condescending, insincere way. They’re shallow–and I hate shallow people. I used to ignore her, but no longer. Now I treat her as I would anyone else. I don’t make over her, talk down to her, like the others.
A couple months ago, this group ate at a really nice Mexican restaurant–the best in town. A mariachi band began playing. I was disappointed because they didn’t play any Mexican songs, just American songs, in English. Still, they were very good. But nobody in the group would get up and dance. So I just got up there and danced alone. When I returned to the table I noticed that Winnie wanted to dance, by her behavior. A fast song played–I must admit I wouldn’t have slow-danced with her (everyone in the world is shallow, in some ways). Barbara suggested that I dance with Winnie (they just tolerate me too). So I got back up and danced with Winnie. And when we returned to the table, I seated her (as I would any woman).
My point is this: To treat any person in a condescending manner (even a child), is far worse than ignoring him/her. You showed kindness toward this man, though not in a condescending way. You treated him as you would anyone else. So there’s no need for guilt. Even if he thought you were leaving that church because of him, you left because it was necessary. And you have no control over his feelings. In fact, since you treated him with kindness–he may not have felt that way at all.