Shelby, Dave and Nick at Pioneer Week
I thought I was going to cry in church today. David and I were sitting in the adult class when the children’s teacher came to get David. I sat there, mindless of the lesson, frozen and afraid. Memories. Feelings.
When the boys were still in their twin stroller wearing diapers and drinking from bottles, we went to church service. No one was in the nursery, so we took all the children into worship. My baby boys were singing, or trying to. They weren’t crying or fussing, just singing along. The minister left the pulpit and walked right up to us. David held out his hand, thinking all was friendly and well. Nope. In the middle of services, the minister told us, we needed to take the babies out. Babies are disruptive, he couldn’t continue the service with our children present. But the nursery room is empty we said. He replied, then you need to stay in there with the babies. We left in shock. I cried all afternoon.
Not long after, we attended a funeral. An usher met us at the door — oh, ma’am, there’s a special room at the back for you and the babies. Apparently we weren’t wanted, even though we were family to the deceased.
Shortly after Shelby’s coma, we attended VBS at our church home (where we’d placed membership). We were in the cafeteria area, trying to let the kids learn to live without us hovering, when Nick’s teacher hurried towards me. Holding him by the arm, she handed him to me saying that my son didn’t want to be in class and needed to be with me.
Currently, the three kids are involved in an extra curricular activity. Again, I’ve tried to cut the leash. But I’m constantly being told that my kids don’t listen.
So I started being a presence. What I’ve noticed? If two kids are playing with cushions, Dave will get hollered at. If three kids are messing with something on the desk, Nick gets into trouble. Once, Nick was yelled at not to touch after he moved over and just looked at the recorder and . The other kids throw balls, sit in storage tubs, spin in chairs, do hand-stands, do leaping ballet jumps, throw things but nothing is said. Someone had a lighter and one of the adults came and asked Nick where it was. Never asked the other children. Three weeks later, a child came and asked Nick about the lighter. I was in the room for both occasions. Shelby, at 14, has talked with me. She has noticed the disparity in treatment, that no matter what happens, Nick and David (particularly Nick) gets into trouble when others do not.
They Love Our Children
Dave and Nick at Pioneer Week
So, when Mr. Larry came to talk to David, I was feeling ill. I just knew.
I was wrong. It turned out, I didn’t know.
Mr. Larry wanted David to reassure the children that they could make notes in their new bibles for study. That was all. I get texts from Mr. Larry’s wife, who co-teaches the children’s class, that my children are sweet, that she misses them if we’re not there, how glad she is that they are in her class. Driving home, David asked the kids some questions and they not only knew the answers, they added more information. David asked, “How did you know that?” Nick replied, “Duh, Dad. We listened.”
The children attended Pioneer Week at this church earlier in the summer. Do you know what? I left them there all day and never got called. These church members thanked me for bringing them. The leaders even told me how wonderful my children are. Shelby told me that her brothers never got into trouble during Pioneer Week.
We are all shaped by our histories. Where my children are concerned, I guess I’m guilty of being over-protective. Maybe I can start letting go of some of that baggage with this church. Maybe this time we’ll have a church family who will appreciate my children’s special qualities.
Our children aren’t perfect by any means, but I love them deeply and I worry that their self-esteem and self-image will be harmed by impatience . I worry that the treatment they receive today could leave long-lasting invisible scars. (So far, I think they are immune and oblivious – but this could be why Nick prefers to be by himself, why he doesn’t join in groups of kids.)
They aren’t angels — but they are my angels.