Taking your children to church can be so exciting... You never really know what to expect. Many Catholic churches have a special place called "the crying room." Ah, the crying room. It's usually up in the front somewhere, separate from the congregation but glassed in, so you can see, but the children cannot be heard from the sanctuary.
It's a lovely thought, right? Sound comes into the crying room through speakers, and the crying children are all gathered together like an out-of-control children's choir. At least you're there, and nobody is having impure thoughts of murder while your children disrupt and you struggle to contain their exuberance and energy. With our sons coming nearly four years apart, it seemed like I had ever just graduated to the main body of the congregation, when I again had to be exiled to the crying room. There were two incidents that I want to memorialize here. Both were only funny in retrospect.
The first happened when Jeremy was tiny. Tighe had watched for months as the ushers would quietly come into the crying room with the collection basket for our offertory gifts. People would place their cash, checks, or envelopes in the basket, and then the usher would open the door and quietly leave again. Tighe liked the idea of having money so freely given. One day he figured if it was good enough for the ushers, he'd give it a try himself. When the ushers left the room, he picked up the little trash basket and followed them into the main congregation, and started going up and down the aisles, holding out the trash can and looking expectantly, waiting for money to be placed in his offering basket.
I didn't notice that he was gone right away, as I was dealing with Jeremy, but I could hear sudden laughter coming through the speakers and started looking around. Out through the glass I saw what was going on, and put Jeremy down, ready to go retrieve my wayward eldest, when the head usher beat me to it. He marched him back in the room and actually slammed the door shut as he left! He kept the trash can, too. He never smiled at me again. I was a failed mother. (His standards were very high.)
The second incident only disrupted the crying room, not the general congregation, but one man never came back to that service; at least, he never sat in the crying room again. I'm not sure why he sat in there, anyway. He never had any children with him. He was a big guy, and there's no really polite way to say this. He had a problem commonly known as plumber's crack. He would kneel down with his hips resting on the seat, leaning forward onto the front of the seat in front of him, and this wide crack would be displayed, disappearing into the drooping edge of his pants. We usually came in after he did, and I was careful to sit well forward of him. One Sunday, however, he was late. He rushed in and sank into the empty spot right in front of Jeremy. Just then the service began.
Jeremy wasn't even two yet, and inhibitions aren't strong at that age. We had almost made it to the end of the service. We were all kneeling down after Communion when Jeremy, with a loud "Wheee!" stuck his finger down the guy's crack. I had never before seen a man levitate. He was out of his seat, and out of that church faster than I would have believed possible.
Church lasted another fifteen minutes at the most, but I don't think there was a person in there who wasn't still laughing off and on when we left — except me. I do have more church stories, but we'll save them for another day, assuming the kids don't travel to Colorado to kill me first.