I know I have written in the past -distant and fairly recent as well -about issues we've had with both the youngsters here pertaining to going to church.
From the very beginning with Maya, we took her to church with us and that first year with her was really nice too as she was a very pleasant baby. She didn't get all hyper around people fawning over her after the services, almost always fell asleep during the service too, which made taking her with us quite easy and very enjoyable.
Then, when she was just past 30 months -right after Kurtis came along -out of the blue, from no where, the worm turned and for the next 13 months, taking her along with us to church was an impossibility as she would begin to scream as soon as the car made the turn into the church parking lot. And if we were foolish enough to try to get her inside the building the screaming and crying would just intensify.
Finally though, after a little over a year of those carrying on episodes, she began to calm down and gradually acclimated to the routine of sitting through a church service.
Kurtis never went through that phase -well, not that early on anyway. His rejection of attending church started recently and it caused our attendance to drop off again then too because although he would be fine in the car, walking into church, even greeting other people in the narthex and such. He would be good walking down the aisle to a select pew, quiet, giving us the idea that all was well and we could get through the service with no problems.
That is how it would go with him -nice, ya know - until the organist would appear and begin to play the prelude and then, he would begin to fuss. Amidst crys of "No music!" or "No sing, no sing!" it would be inevitable that Mandy would take him out and away from the service but usually, by the time the offertory was ended and communion beginning, he would be calm enough to sit through the end of the service.
Still, Mandy longed to be able to sit through the service uninterrupted by his crying and carrying on, ya know.
We figured since he only got upset when he heard the organ being played that maybe there was some type of sensory issue pertaining to a vibration perhaps from the organ that upset his equilibrium so just sort of bided our time then in trying to take him to church.
This past Sunday we talked to him about going to church with Mommy, Maya and Gram and he was responding to our talk, very excited and happy, saying how he was going to go to church.
Then he started mentioning -well in advance of being in church -the "No sing, no sing" thing so we told him that was okay that he didn't have to sing but that others like the music and enjoy that and he seemed to calm down enough that we decided to give church attendance another shot.
Armed with what quite possibly may be the largest book of pictures to color, mazes to draw through, things to connect the dots and such, plus a small plastic box filled with many crayons and even a few markers too that Maya carried in with her, and the kids grabbing not one but three of the bags at the back of the church filled with soft type, quiet toys, in we went.
And, once seated in the pew, the kids -side-by-side -(which can often be a bad seating arrangement as it invites bossiness and bullying from Maya on to her brother at times) both kids dug into those bags and settled back for an hour of non-stop coloring and such.
Kurtis had his "bear-bear" with him too. (That's this big furry pillow-type, cover that is his security item.) And, with "Bear-Bear" spread across his legs, then a little lap-type drawing board, crayons, all kinds of papers to play with, he settled in and played nicely -no outbursts of fear and tears when the music began -and only once during the entire service then where we -or the congregation -actually aware of his presence, he was that good, that quiet.
Pastor's service this Sunday was organized a little differently than the norm though as there would be a scripture reading, then she would discuss a little about each of the seasons of the church calendar and each of these little pieces would be followed by the congregation singing one verse of the hymn, "Crown Him King of Kings." It was a very nice presentation, to say the least.
As she talked about each season, she had -for display and information -each of the different paraments used to be draped over the pulpit -explaining the Greek (or sometimes Latin) letters and their meanings as well as the significance of the pictures on those cloth pieces too.
As she moved along, discussing each season, when she came to the church season we are now rapidly approaching, she opened that particular topic by saying "Oh, Christmas."
And without looking up from his coloring, never missing a beat with his interests spread before him in his lap, there came from Kurtis a rather loud exclamation where his echolalia set in on him and he almost shouted, "OH CHRISTMAS!"
But that was the only time he voiced anything much less in a way that the whole congregation heard him and the success we had this past Sunday was such that it makes us look forward now to the possibility of returning fairly regularly to attending church -again!
Just another little way in which we measure bits and pieces of progress, the learning process in action here, you see.
After church, there is of course the procession out to the narthex where Pastor Carrie stands and greets everyone. Kurtis totally blew her off as he ran past her -no shaking hands for him that day -he had other fish to fry and headed over to the refreshment table to get first dibs on a cookie or some other treat there.
Maya generally is fairly complacent about the exit process and usually will respond to Pastor's outstretched hand by reaching up and shaking hands -or at least a light touch anyway.
But this Sunday, for whatever reason, she hung back, kind of shyly hiding between Mandy and myself and refused to shake -or even touch -Pastor Carrie's hand.
That is until Pastor Carrie mentioned to her that Kurtis had given her his hand and not wanting to be outdone by her little brother, she came forward immediately then to extend her hand!
Amazing isn't it what will sometimes influence small children!
And let me tell you this, I am not against a bit of bribery or stretching the truth a tad too in order to get good results!
And I'm also really thankful that at times, things like that work wonders with small children too!