Well today we decided that we would try a new church. Now I am not sure I ever mentioned but I did not want to change rites, I enjoy being an Episcopalian, but I needed to think about different congregations. So I remembered that there was an Episcopalian church right near where I use to go to college so I decided we would try there today.
OK we went to a small church, maybe 40-50 members and this church to us was cathedral sized so holy Hannah we felt dwarfed. We come in and immediately are greeted by someone other then the greeter. She states she is “Father’s Wife” and that we must be new so welcome. I was FLOORED. I mean in a church this huge you know who the new people are…all right maybe I am country mouse in a city church. She quickly introduces us to the youth minister who gives us a run down of what happens in this congregation in relation to the kids. Now we are really early so after a few hasty introductions we are told to sit anywhere.
The service is similar, well with a lot more people and lots of singing which my kids love because, well they get to hear Mom sing “for real”. Time for the homily and the youth leader comes to M2 and asks if she “wants to get her wiggles out if it is OK with Mom that is”. I say sure and for the first time EVER M2 goes off without me in a new place. WOW is all I can say. We listen to the homily and M2 does not return, I am amazed…oh yes and the sermon was good too. The service is over and the girls are invited to join the other kids in the gym. They were a bit reluctant to join in but did hang out and watch.
The youth minister comes up to me and asks to speak with me a moment so I leave the gym. She smiles warmly but I am on guard.
“ANYM, Father showed me your email and I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to talk to you a moment. I don’t understand your situation but so you know we have several special needs kids in the congregation. We welcome everyone regardless and I am truly sorry that has not always been your case. If you come here you can know be with M2 if you want to or she is in good hands with D the teacher in her room. If you want the girls are welcome to come today to class and see what you think”
I talk to the girls and they seem game. I join M2 as she is anxiety prone anyway. The kids do introductions and M2 hides her face whispering “Momma you do” The kids look at her curiously so I say:
“This is M2, she is 9 and goes to MH Elementary school. While she can talk and hear she has trouble doing both and wears a hearing aid to help her. She is shy right now because sometimes when people hear her talk they make fun of her. This hurts her feelings and makes her not want to talk in new places.”
One of the middle school boys blurts out “Why would you make fun of someone for that?” I smiled and explained that sometimes people are mean and make fun of others. Many looked indignant and then the Sunday school teacher told the class a similar story that happened with her daughter when she was M2s age. The kids listened fascinated and discussed how it was not a good idea to make fun of others. M2 released her grip on my hand and looked visibly relieved. The activity started and M2 jumped in and was readily welcomed. I felt a huge relief.
The lessons end and we hook up with M1 who is oddly enough smiling. I ask how it was and she said “pretty good”. What a positive review from the teen too?? Wow. We go to leave and I ask the kids what they think. M2 says “Yep real good Momma we come back?” I laugh and said we shall see. I then prod M1 a little more and she says
“Um this is going to be weird but everyone here is happy. Its weird but they seem to really like it and the class was actually pretty good too”
OK it hits me hard then…my 14 year old who is oblivious to the fact I got my hair cut picked up on the negativity in the church. It must be tremendously toxic for her to get this without me EVER saying anything to her about it.
We went to pick up Little Man and Little Bit and the first thing out of M2s mouth was “We gots a new church” I had to laugh in spite of it….now of course I have to write the good bye letter to my old church.