Church Superlatives

Yes, we still sit in the cry room at church on Sundays.


“Why do we always sit in here?” Nate asked me last week as we crept in a few minutes after mass began—per the norm.


“Because you insist on talking loudly every week.”


“Huh,” he replied, rolling his eyes up to the ceiling as if trying to disprove my accusation.


“Let’s practice whispering today,” I tell them every single week. “Can you show me how you whisper?”


“Yes, Mom, I can whisper,” Nate whispers in reply. How sweet.


“No, Mom. No whisper!” Why is Sam always so loud and angry? Oh, right—because he’s two.


There are definitely families at church—don’t tell me this isn’t true, Tighe!—who walk into the cry room, see Nate and Sam, and turn around and walk back out. I guess they don’t want our guys corrupting their sweet, little cherub angels. They’re probably resentful that we’re still hogging seats in there, that we haven’t graduated to the main sanctuary yet. Well, so am I.


Here are a few awards I doled out mentally after last week’s service.


Most Dirty Looks Received: Me. This might be skewed, though, because Tighe isn’t sensitive to people’s judgmental glares while I assume that everyone I make eye contact with and even people who just glance in our direction are giving us dirty looks. I realize this is paranoid and immature and narcissistic of me, but when you see the hand of kids I’ve been dealt and the ruckus they cause, you’d understand.


Best Behaved: Not Nate. Not Sam. Not the nearby three year-old grinding pretzels into the carpet with his heel. If we’re being honest, I don’t think I could safely nominate any of the kids in the room that morning. Maybe the aloof dad sitting a few seats over, completely zoning out? He was pretty quiet. I think he actually fell asleep at one point. Good for him.


Worst Dressed: Nate. He was wearing a green Ninja Turtles t-shirt with toothpaste splashes down the front of it, highlighter yellow gym shorts that were at least two sizes too large, and his red Pumas that encased four socks—two on each foot and each a different color.


Most Well-Fed: Sam. This is true even on Sundays when I don’t bring snacks with me. He usually finds some other kids to beg food from. If the kids are older, he’ll act cute and fun so that they want to share with him. If the kids are younger than he is, he’ll bully them into sharing or distract them by shoving them to the ground. How clever.


Loudest: Sam, without a doubt. He started a “poop” chant during the first scripture reading.


In fairness, Nate was a close runner-up. He lectured the little boy in front of us for about ten minutes on the Ninja Turtle Lego action figures he had brought with him. And when the boy turned to take the figures back to his seat with him, apparently not understanding the concept of “borrowing”—a grave injustice in Nate’s eyes—there was a louder, more urgent protest from Nate. Tighe and I intervened simultaneously before Nate took a swing at him.


Most Likely to Get Divorced: Tighe and Erin. What? You’re thinking, ‘But it’s Mother’s Day! No one files for divorce on Mother’s Day!’ Well, only because it’s Sunday and government buildings and law offices are closed. And it doesn’t matter that we enter the church as a united front and have reconciled by the time we pull into our driveway later that morning. Somehow, some way, Nate and Sam will divide and conquer us during that church service. Maybe I’ll take Nate to the bathroom during the gospel reading, not knowing that Tighe has been refusing the same request for the past twenty minutes, thus undermining his authority.


Or maybe Tighe will fish a snack out of my bag and give it to Sam when I had sworn to myself that they don’t need snacks to sit still.


Or maybe Tighe will snicker at something that Nate did. And the angry eye darts that I have laser-focused on Nate will suddenly swing around, complete with the Star Wars light saber sound effects, and burn holes through my soon-to-be-ex-husband’s forehead.


Who knows what will happen? The whispering rule really breaks down our line of communication.


Most persistent: Sam. From about five minutes into the start of mass until the very end: “Time to go now! Amen!” “Time to go now, Dad!” “It’s over now, amen!” “Time to go to playground now!” “Playground! Now!” Nor did he flinch when an older boy, perhaps five, finally told him that “poop” was a “potty word.” Dammit, if peer pressure doesn’t set him straight, I don’t know what will!


Best Hair: Sam. He looks like Gary Busey if he was a towheaded toddler who went to Lloyd Christmas’s barber.


Best Amendment to the Nicene Creed: Sam. He added: “My a bulldozer! My a bulldozer! My a bulldozer!” Again and again and again.


Most Excited About Communion: Tie. Either Tighe because it’s a signal that our power hour of torture is almost over. Or Sam because…well, actually we don’t really know why Sam loves to “go to ‘munnion.’” Nate, seeming annoyed, even reminded him this week that “there are no toys at communion, Sam.”


It’s a full hour of angst and elevated tension, and I’m counting down every minute, every reading, every prayer, every mouth open in the communion line. “Let’s hurry this up, people! God would want this to be efficient!”


And then, towards the end of mass, as my eyes fell upon Nate and Sam arranging their fingers into gun barrels, pointing at strangers, and spitting semi-automatic weapon fire noises, I knew I couldn’t stand one more second. I overheard another mom pleading with her little girl—who was wearing a lovely floral print sundress—to cross her legs and stop straddling the leg of a nearby chair. Smiling to myself and looking with love over my bloodthirsty savages, I said a prayer of thanksgiving for my two little boys.