Save it. Read it again sometime when you feel like everyone else in the world has perfectly behaved children and yours are the only ones who misbehave in public:
Yesterday morning Mass for the Bean clan was going smoothly. Raphael slept in his car seat on the pew, Gabrielle was reasonably content on my lap, Stephen had only asked, “Is it over yet?” one time so far, and the older kids all knew better than to do anything but sit calmly in the pew.
Then Dan whispered in my ear that he was going to the bathroom and took off. Apparently this was the cue all of the children were waiting for. Immediately upon his father’s departure, Raphael awoke and commenced an enthusiastic crying fit. I put Gabrielle down and fiddled with his uncooperative car seat belt. After finally releasing him, I picked him up and he settled. Well, sort of settled anyway.
For her part, Gabrielle did not appreciate being removed from her mother’s lap and she made her feelings knownloudly. She continually leaned over the edge of the pew and opened her mouth to let her pacifier drop to the floor. Even as the pacifier was still leaving her lips she would start to whine for it. “Mamaaaaa! My twosie!…” (See here for a “twosie” explanation.) Since her whines were growing louder and Raphael fussed more each time I bent down to get the pacifier, I decided that I should cut my losses, pack up the two trouble-makers, and head to my usual Sunday morning hangout: the back of the church.
As I was leaving the pew, though, Stephen caught my eye and asked if he could come too. Because my arms were full of noisy babies, I felt justified in giving him a simple “no” and then leaving without further explanation. That was a bad idea. When I got to the back of the church and surveyed my remaining crew in the pew, I saw that Stephen was angry. Really angry. And he was taking out his rage on the empty infant car seat left in the pew. When the older kids tried to stop him from pummeling it and throwing it to the floor, he responded by swinging his fists in their direction. Kateri took the blows in stride, but Ambrose decided to respond in kind.
As I watched in helpless horror from the back of the church, a fist fight broke out between my two boys in the front pew. I abandoned Gabrielle who was exploring the confessional and raced up the aisle to snag Stephen by the ear and hustle him to the back. Dan appeared a few minutes later and looked startled to find me standing in the back with three clinging, whining kids.
“Everyone was bad,” I whispered at him fiercely, but of course I was exaggerating. Three out of our seven kids had failed to misbehave at all, even in the midst of that chaos. So, technically speaking, it could have been worse, I suppose. All I know is that it didn’t feel that way at the time.
So, there it is for your parental satisfaction: True confessions from a mother of kids who are every bit as bad as yours–maybe even worse. Okay, now fair is fair. Send me your stories so I won’t feel so wretched either.