This morning at the breakfast table and rather out of the blue, Mia asked if we could go to Mass this morning. It wasn't on my to-do list for the day, but when a child ASKS to go to church, the answer better be a loud resounding "Amen, Allelulia, H-to-the-YES!" Mass alone with the kids is usually a physically draining, patience-testing adventure in the wiggles, so my plan was to keep them in the vestibule and watch through the glass doors. On the drive over I laid out expectations for Mia's behavior with the promise she could run around in the grass afterward. As we trotted into church just in the nick of time, Mia beelined for a corner, got down on her knees, and started praying that she would find her missing piglet figurine. Olivia "Me-Too" Templeton copy-catted her way over right next to sister, and this mom's heart swelled with relief that today might not be the worst Mass ever. But the relief was short lived. Running and raised voices rapidly ensued, and despite my best efforts to calmly correct, in T minus the Gospel, Mia had disintegrated from this...
I warned her that if she reached a running clip one more time we were leaving, so as she trotted away from me post tongue-out incident, I pointed to the door and out we went. She hung her head as we walked to the car knowing she had disappointed me and asked if she could try again. Yes, I told her, we will try again on Thursday, and per her request, we will try sitting IN the chapel.
There are 100 ways to analyze, question, deconstruct this incident, but here's the angle of the day... As heart wrenching as it was to walk out of Mass before communion, I think it was an effective punishment for Mia. You know those empty threats of "If you X-Y-Z one more time I'm calling Miss Layla and we're not going to A-B-C!"? (Or maybe I'm the only idiot mom who makes empty threats that in my gut I know I'm not going to follow through on.) I have a whole new perspective on just how effective it might be to actually go through with it one time. My hesitation to follow through is usually based on disappointing my friend or the friend's kid. After someone has made the effort to have us over or meet us somewhere, it feels insensitive to yank my kids away and bail. But on the flip side, I wouldn't mind if any of my friends took their kids home if they were misbehaving. It would probably be a good lesson for Mia in the process. Kristi and I talked about this a long time ago, and her suggestion was to warn the person that today may be the day we leave, but for some reason I never have the forethought to do that.
So the next time you invite us to play, we might have to go home early. And if you ever want to follow through on cancelling plans with us due to behavior, I completely understand.