The Royal College of Bystanders

So, let me let you in on a little secret.  Kids don’t always behave well at Mass.  But sometimes the best thing to do is to just pretend nothing is happening….  Unless you’re willing to roll your sleeves up, muck in and give the poor frazzled parents a break.  Or are able to provide strait jackets in junior sizes, we’re not fussy.

(Sometimes even their Guardian Angel needs to sit them down and read them the riot act…)


Sunday morning turned out to be a bit of a washout around here, which meant that we had to load up the whole posse and head to evening Mass up in Belfast. We had a lovely visit with the grandparents beforehand and stopped off in Boojum for something to eat. (Forecast for the next 24 hours was wind. ‘Nuff said.) Tired + Hungry is always a recipe for disaster, so at least we scratched one of those off the list.

So. I lined #5 up with a tube feed and put her in her buggy so she wouldn’t try to do her celebrated impression of a demented octopus, which, when it’s feeding time, inevitably leads to vomit.

So far so good, right? Well. Here’s how things panned out for us.

#4 did a poo (perfect timing), so The Old Progenitor brought her out to the car to change her.

#3 and #1, who were sitting next to each other, started pulling faces at each other. I quietly hissed at them (as only a mother can do) to stop it. right. this. second. They didn’t. #3 started acting up, so, as The Old Progenitor and #4 returned, I took #3 and #5 to the back of the Church.

#3 started demanding loudly that I LET GO OF HER HAND RIGHT NOW so we went out into the porch where I proceeded to silently stare her down (until I was on the verge of laughing at her incredibly cute pout) before asking if she was ready to behave yet. We returned to the pew.

#5, who had been enjoying the little stroll around the back of the Church, started objecting vociferously to the fact that we were now standing still. I mean, what gives?! Rocking the buggy back and forth? Do you honestly think I’m going to fall for that old chestnut? After 5 minutes of walking around, I figured we could safely return to the pew. I figured wrong. By way of protest, #5 proceeded to stick her fingers into her mouth, trigger her very delicate gag reflex, and throw up on herself. Out to the car we go to get tidied up. Aaaaaaand back to the pew.

Now, while Littlest Missy and I were off on our wild adventures, don’t be fooled into thinking that The Old Progenitor was having it easy back there. Cushy little number, sitting there saying his prayers with 4 of his adoring daughters around him, right? Well, I’m not entirely sure what was going down in my absence, but I returned just as #4 was yelling “YOU’RE A BIG MEANIE!!!” at him, during the Consecration. Also, it turns out #3 wasn’t ready to behave after all, as she kept pinching, poking and badgering #1. She’d wait for things to settle down and then pinch her again. Fun times.

So, Daddy’s turn to bring #3 up to the back, while #5 copped on that we weren’t on the move anymore and #4 went from (loudly) asking “What is making that NOISE?!” (the choir) to yelling “I DON’T WANT YOU, I WANT DADDY!” before sticking her thumb in her mouth and putting her head on my chest. It was short lived — she joined her Daddy and big sis at the back, and we made a hasty retreat to the car as soon as the choir had finished shining their little lights. (I am incredibly grateful that #1 did NOT keep her promise to sing it the whole way home…)

The Old Progenitor proceeded to inform me that another Mass-goer had accosted him on the way out to give him “parenting advice”. Y’know. The kind of advice that comes from someone who has just been appointed a fellow of the Royal College of Bystanders. (We came to the conclusion that their mascot is a high horse, by the way.)

Like, srsly. Instead of criticizing a family struggling with lots of little kids who are tired, fractious and getting on each other’s nerves at the end of a long, hot day (and that was just us), how about lending a hand? A friendly word to a child who is acting out could be enough to stop them in their tracks and let Mummy or Daddy catch their breath. Instead of telling a parent how they should be reacting, how about stopping to think about how YOU are reacting? Because, as the saying goes, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all!


P.S.  On the up side, #2, who is usually in the thick of it when it comes to making trouble around here, was sweetness and light yesterday.  Wonders never cease!!

P.P.S.  Sorry, Father.  I didn’t catch a word of your homily.  But I’m sure it was great!!


Grumpy Gargoyle and Baboon Photos from

About Le@h

Mummy to 5 wee girls. They're mad, but then again, so are we.
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