When Children Fight in Church

Saturday night at church, Gabe and Kate had a fight over whose foot could rest on the bottom of the leg of the kneeler. Not on the kneeler—the kneeler was up. And there was six good feet of folded kneeler available for foot-resting. They were fighting over the 2 inch rubber square on the bottom of the kneeler leg that was sticking up in the air.

First Gabe claimed it. Then he picked his foot up to scratch his ankle and Kate stuck her foot on it. He nudged her foot off. She nudged his foot off. He nudged harder. She kicked. Nudge. Kick. Nudge. Kick. All while staring straight ahead like they weren’t breaking all the rules.

I tsked. I threw the warning brows and whispered “Cut. It. Out.” Gabe shoved her leg, which made her yelp. The lady in front of us turned around. And I had a choice.

Smile and lie: “The children are on a special antibiotic that makes them twitch.”

Laugh sarcastically: “Only my kids would be possessed by the devil at Mass.”

Ignore her, take my children firmly in hand and bring the thunder, Mass or no Mass.

I lied.

Not really. But I wanted to. Instead, I leaned across all three kids, fixed Shea with a baleful stare and hissed “Your children are not behaving in Mass!”

There are lots of upsides here. I pass the buck. The kids know what’s up when my voice gets hissy. And with luck the lady in front of us thinks I’m the stepmother, not the birthmother, of the hooligans.

If I was a different kind of mom, I would have seized on the helicopter solution immediately, and instructed Father after Mass that he simply must remove those pesky rubber squares.

But since I’m me, my kids were treated to the scariest of all mom walks: the high-heeled beeline to the car, a frightened child dragging along in each hand. The one where no one talks and all you can hear is the staccato click-click-click of boot heels hitting the pavement.

Just another peaceful trip to Mass.

Tell me this happens to you. That your kids, who behave seven times out of ten, pick the worst places to shake it out. And in the midst of it you want to pause and shout to the crowd (why is there always a crowd?) “I swear I have taught them behave! We have rules and boundaries and consequences! We even enforce them regularly! I promise!”

And if it doesn’t happen to you, for the love of goodness, share the secret.




4 thoughts on “When Children Fight in Church

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