Today Gabriel was not the worst-behaved child at mass. It is not that any of the other children in attendance had a particularly difficult time, but more that Gabriel was just plain well-behaved, for the most part.
To gain a better understanding of why I am taking the time to mention this, take into consideration the following, which has been in draft form on my blog since April 2:
Today at Good Friday service, the priest likened my experience as a mother specifically to Jesus’ Passion. Joshua, Gabriel and I attended Good Friday service alone while J.R. was at work. As you have probably guessed, it wasn’t easy. We walked to the Church today, it’s probably about a mile from our house, so it makes for a nice walk when the weather is nice. I mention this because I think that some people wonder why I didn’t take Gabriel out of the church: there was no place for us to go once we got out of the Church. Also, to go out of the church was what he wanted, so it wouldn’t have made much sense to reward his behavior. I had a feeling that it was going to be a rough day, so I took us straight to the cry room. Upon our entrance to the cry room, we immediately ran an older gentleman out. You see, Gabriel spent the first five minutes or so SCREAMING about how he wanted to leave, go home, or go to sleep – with the main point being: DO NOT make me stay here, Mommy! An older couple arrived late just as Gabriel had settled down. Thinking that they could sneak into the cry room, they managed to stir him back up again, only the second time was much worse. When I left to take Gabriel (still screaming) to the restroom, they made their exit. I let Gabriel stand in the vestibule for a bit after the potty break (he had calmed down, and my expectations had become very low…really, as long as he wasn’t screaming I figured that we were good). Then he decided that he wanted to go outside, which I could not allow – so the screaming began again. Thus, we had screaming, more or less, throughout the entrance, readings, gospel, homily, and petitions. Well, not the entire time, but I spent that entire time distracted enough that I cannot remember them.*
As you have probably gathered, it has been a long, drawn-out process to today, but through persistence and prayer, Gabriel seems to be reaching a point at which he has learned how to behave properly at mass. I know that it is not reasonable to expect that he is going to be perfectly behaved 100% of the time, but I think that it is safe to say the behavior of Good Friday is behind us.
Also, to any parent who may be despairing over their child’s behavior and wondering whether they will ever get to pay attention to the mass again: it will happen.
*My brother was present on Good Friday as well, otherwise I would have no idea that the priest mentioned us during the homily.