This morning my 2 year old asked what we were going to do today. My husband responded that we were getting ready to go to church. Then my two year old said, “In church we be quiet.”
My heart just stopped.
If that is the first thing he thinks of when we mention going to church then we have utterly failed.
A few months ago, he started showing a lot of resistance to the nursery. He kept saying he wanted to come up to church with us. So rather than let him have a negative association with going, we decided to try having him come up with us in the sanctuary. “You can come with Mommy and Daddy but you have to be quiet,” I’ll admit I said those words to him on a few occasions.
And he has been very well behaved. He follows along with most of the service. He responds at the appropriate times. He sings the Lord’s Prayer in his loud toddler voice. I thought we were doing really well.
But then he said, “In church we be quiet.” And my heart broke.
I rushed out to him and I tried to explain that sometimes in church we have to be quiet but it’s only because in order to listen we need to be quiet. We need to listen to Father Jeff and to Mother Pippa. We need to listen to the gospel story and listen for God. And I tried to explain to him that sometimes we’re loud in church, too. Sometimes we sing loud because we’re so excited to be there and praise God.
We got into the sanctuary and sat in the pew. The prelude began, and Elias yelled out, “Listen, Mommy! It’s the elbow!” (oboe) Then I explained to him that last time it was an oboe, but this time it was an organ.
Then later when the priest was reading the Collect of the day, he again said in a loud voice, “We listen to Mother Pippa!”
So maybe my little talk in the morning got through to him after all. Only time will tell.
A child’s faith is so strong and yet so fragile at the same time. The last thing I want to do is squash it by making him think that church is all about being quiet. Yes, sometimes we need quiet at church. Time to pray or listen or reflect. But sometimes we need loud at church too. And I hope I can teach my son that balance.