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We tried Harvey in kids church today, since it was the first day of the new school year and because he's older and because hope springs eternal. Harvey attended kid's church a few times when he was 2 until a string of traumatic incidents made him declare it too scary. How traumatic? Well, he wet himself one time, then another time they made him walk across the hall for a christmas presentation. I know. Torture.

I had felt that I didn't want to force him into a fearful crying situation every week because what does that teach him about church? church is torture? church is parental neglect? church is a place where adults have fun while children get babysitting?

So we kept him with us in the big service. I guess he was learning something about church and about God, but also he was getting yelled at a lot for acting like a child. And a lot of the time I thought things like: What is the point of this? They can run around and be loud at home and I wouldn't have to disturb other people or drive an hour total; I could just wash dishes.

But then I thought: what does THAT teach them? You can't go to church anymore because you're bad???

So back to kids church. Dan did a great job these past weeks of building up the idea of kids church for Harvey, how fun it would be now that he's a big kid, how great the toys are. And Harvey was SUPER excited to get in that room with the toys; he didn't mind at all when we left him. I even walked out and said, "Wow, that was easy!"

I had been in church ten minutes when I got a page to come back for him. Harvey had wet his pants. He was standing in the adjacent classroom, snotty and sobbing, tootsie-roll wadded up in his fist. And I thought, What is the point of all this? I thought, I just want to take them home.

After a few minutes of cuddles Harvey recovered enough to listen to the creation story while sitting on my lap. But before the end of class time he wet his pants again, this time while standing right next to me. Because I had only brought one change of clothes he went home in a pull-up and spare pair of sweat pants.

We came home from church and I immediately got a fever.

This whole thing is so hard. Every week we go to church, and I have an agenda. I want to GO TO CHURCH. I want to sing songs and hear a sermon. I want to feel like I prayed and connected with God.

My kids have an agenda too. They want to play with toys, play with other kids, play on the playground. They want to eat bagels. They want to feel safe while they do all this and feel like their parents are looking out for their needs.

They don't care for a sermon. They only care for songs if they can run around like maniacs.

They don't care that every other day of the week we go on outings 100% for them, 100% designed to make them engaged and happy. They are justifiably confused that I have a different agenda.

I was thinking as I sat holding sobbing Harvey this morning. I was winded from running across the parking lot carrying Zion, and I had to pee because I hadn't gotten a chance to go to the bathroom between dropping Harvey in his class and getting to church, and in this altered state I suddenly I had a selfless thought: If this is what it takes for Harvey to have a relationship with God then I will sit in this stupid tiny room all year. I will drive to Cambridge every Sunday to be a human bean-bag chair and take Harvey back and forth from the bathroom, if that's what he needs. I already have a relationship with God. If Harvey needs to sit on my lap every time he hears a bible story then I will give up every pleasure I have in Sundays so that he can sit on my lap on learn about creation.

Then I had another thought. This is insane. How much can I possibly give up? Sleep? Privacy? Alone time? Physical integrity? I already don't have anything left. Every second of my life is already giving something up because it might make something slightly easier for one of my children.

But maybe these are just the thoughts I have when I'm ill. I don't know if it's the line of thinking that gives me the fever or the fever that gives me the line of thinking. Last time I waxed existential I had a persistent throat infection, but as soon as it got better I felt a lot better.

Dan says he will take Harvey to kids church next week.


I definitely understand where you're coming here and for what it's worth I think you should keep at it. My oldest daughter never had a problem with kids' church but my youngest did and continues to. We just keep at it with her (the youngest) week after week. She screams bloody murder for under a minute every week. She's a big faker.

A few things that helped:

- give her bagel before going in
- have her go in with her water bottle

We clearly explain to her ahead of time that we're coming back for her. I also sat in the classroom without leaving 2-3 weeks but I'm not really sure if that helped or hurt.

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