To the Mom Whose Kids Are Wiggly in Church
“Your kids sit so still during church! Mine are so wiggly!” she told me after church.
In my typical fashion, I couldn't think of anything non-dorky to say in the moment, but after the fact I thought of all the things I could have said to encourage this other mom.
Instead of making a lame joke, here's what I wish I would have told this sweet mom:
First, thank you. I sincerely appreciate the compliment.
I'm sure you know as well as any other mom how it feels to work day in and day out to teach your children all the things they need to know and feel like you're not getting anywhere. It's lovely when someone with an outside perspective can step in and let you know that you actually are getting somewhere.
Also, don't worry about your wiggly kids because I'm going to tell you a little secret. When you commented on how still my kids were, what you didn't know was that I had already finger-motioned my youngest child up to where I was at the piano three times before the service so I could tell him to calm down. What you didn't see was how many times he really did wiggle during the service. What you didn't hear were my whispered admonitions to my older children to open their Bibles and stop daydreaming.
I'm sure I would have noticed if your children were a distraction during the service. They weren't.
I wish I could tell you that I have some kind of fancy routine where I sit them down at home and have church practice sessions. Or that I always review with them before we go to church exactly what is expected of them. Or that I always remember to follow through with talking to them after we get home about any ridiculous stunts they tried to pull during church.
But I'm just a normal mom. A mom who tries to give my kids a heads up about how they need to behave but forgets to do it a lot too. A mom who has whispered, “Sit up and pay attention” more times than she can count. A mom who has a hard time paying attention during every single service because a little guy wants on my lap. Or off my lap. Or back on.
And my kids? Oh, I think they're pretty super, but I guess they're pretty normal too. They have a hard time sitting still just like all kids do. They have to be reminded of things countless times before they actually start remembering to do them.
No, mama. Don't you worry a bit about your wiggly kids. It takes so much patience and repetition to teach kids to sit still in church. But as they get older and start understanding what the pastor is saying a little better, it will get easier. Keep teaching. Keep reminding. Keep insisting that they pay attention, even when they can't fully understand all that's being said. Eventually it will stick. But for now, you're doing fine. It feels so much worse when you are the one responsible for making sure they don't turn around and make silly faces at the lady behind them or get ink on their dress from the pen you let them use or announce very loudly that they need to go potty.
But in reality you're doing great and so are they.
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