The game is how long can Will make it in Mass before being taken out at least to the grotto for a quick cool down or to the cry room to finish out the rest of the service?
On a really good day he lasts until the Our Father. (We haven't had one of those in at least 4 months)
Last week he lasted until the Gloria.
This week he made it to the Gospel.
So we're showing some improvement. I know all kids' temperaments are different and that I shouldn't expect more than he can deliver developmentally. Comparing him to other kids at storytime or Kindermusik I already know he's on the rambunctious and demanding end of the spectrum. But it's hard walking that fine line between exposing my son to his faith and teaching him virtues like reverence and patience on the one hand and overwhelming him with something he's not developmentally ready for, turning Mass into a struggle it doesn't need to be on the other. He hasn't hit me repeatedly in Mass in a few weeks and his squeals for the sake of squealing seem to be lessening. Instead he's moved onto throwing himself in the aisle crying, slamming the kneeler and making fart noises. I like to think I stay pretty calm about things. I offer him distractions in the form of religious books and toys. I narrate what's going on in Mass in my quietest whisper and point out areas of interest to him around the sanctuary. For the most part, none of those help at this stage.
What does help immensely is to be smiled at by the sweet mom I've noticed in Mass with her 3 kids. The one nursing her youngest in the narthex who tells me he's doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing at this stage and that I'm doing a good job too. The mom who points out her phone number in the bulletin in case I have to go to Mass by myself again and I can tag team with her and her husband and the kids. She recommends a couple books put out by Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and refers to Kimberly Hahn when she talks about how important it is that we encourage other moms. Yes, that helped a lot. And I am so thankful that even though my prayer for William to behave in Mass wasn't answered the way I hoped this week, God is so faithful to put people in my life to answer prayers the way He wills it.
I write this in part to commiserate with any of you who are going through the same thing and ask for suggestions from anyone who has passed through this stage. But also because I have faith that one day my little boy will be an altar server or maybe even a priest, or at least someone who can participate fully in Mass with a willing spirit. I'm going to tell him how he used to be and let it be a testament to how hard his Mommy worked to get him there and how God answers prayers.