Just a little peek at our Brady Bunch Sundays:
Every single Sunday is the same: the toddlers are fussing and cranky, Katie refuses to wash her hair and decides instead to experiments with make up, which of course makes me get a wee bit dramatic: "Girl, there's a fine line between wearing make up and looking like you got attacked by a pack of Crayolas!" Amber wants to wear gym shorts (they're short, I hate them, and it's cold outside; we're in the middle of winter), and Dayton wants to dress to the nines - dress shirt and tie (completely ignoring that there's a stain on his tie, and the dress shirt).
The five year olds decide they want to sit at the stairs of the altar, be the center of attention... as I pretended I don't notice they run up the isle to the minister. Naturally, Dayton wants to correct their behaviour as they've broken the cardinal rule: "though shall be on your best behaviour in church..."
"They're not supposed to be there. I'm gonna go get them!" I know exactly what Dayton's idea of getting them will be: Dragging them from the altar back to us (and we just HAVE to sit at the back of the church, because that's the routine and we can't break the routine), with the little ones screaming and kicking as they're not getting their way, typical behaviour for any toddler that doesn't get what they want. I do my best to keep him rooted beside me, finally give up and take Amber, Katie and Dayton to Sunday School a wee bit early.
On one particular Sunday, we had a change I wasn't prepared for: the Sunday School room was being used as a dining room to feed the congregation... I went into full panic mode. Change and autism do NOT mix.
Thankfully, the reverend came to rescue me with the five year olds, and led me to another room for our Sunday School. Only one more child came to join us, making it a very, very small group. Thank goodness because the three older ones were on the verge of a meltdown as we had another curve ball change thrown our way. My babies on the other hand, took full advantage of the situation, running to sit on Reverend Mark's lap. John and Athena LOVE reverend Mark, and don't even try to hide it.
Reverend Mark held the lesson that day, and I love it when he takes a break from sermons and comes to teach the children. His lessons are always rich, leaving me with the feeling I've just walked away from a sermon. Most importantly, reverend Mark is super supportive of the kids and even comes to pick them up for youth group in his own vehicle! The congregation is very much involved with all of the children and supportive of special needs children AND adults. The congregation of Kildonan United Church is in the process of fundraising money for a special electric chair for one of the elderly congregation members. I've never seen anything like it before. When one member of the church is affected, the whole gets involved as one. It's incredibly amazing to be a part of this group of people who genuinely care about their church members. And now, they've opened their doors to our autism community every Tuesday night! I consider my family to be very fortunate and blessed to be able to be a part of this group of wonderful people. Anyways... off track again...
Reverend Mark made pretzels. Not just any pretzels. The best ever! I've never had a fresh from the oven pretzel. This was AMAZING! He's an amazing baker, one who bakes breads from scratch... yum! Breaking bread with the kids was not only fun, but it made them feel important, plus we got a good lesson on why we break bread.
Unfortunately, the room we were in was right above the sermon... And reverend Mark finished his lesson before the sermon was over...
If I have God before me, Jesus beside me, the Holy Ghost within me and am surrounded by the Lord's angels, who or what shall I fear? THE TODDLERS! A bored toddler is a handful of trouble, but I have two of these little angels. I broke out in a sweat! Dayton, Katie and Amber are very much rule followers, and the rules are simple: behave at church. The toddlers haven't really been observant of this rule...
Of course, Reverend Mark assured me that everything was all right, children are children and the congregation would understand.
So, one may ask, why do I continue to do this every Sunday? My answer: The greatest thing a mother can do for her children is to give her children to God, teach them to love, respect, honor and worship God, and teach them to talk to God. I won't be around forever, my time and Mike's will come. When that time comes, I want my children to know they are not alone. I am thankful my mother gave me this same gift, as she was called home eleven years ago, and I miss her so much. I am thankful for God's unending love that holds me tight when I feel alone in my struggles.
Consider yourselves hugged, (and daddy Paul, if you're reading this, I miss you and mom very much)