Every Sunday that we can, we bravely take our trio of kids to church. Our church has a children's service that runs upstairs during the adult service, but Aidan and Sean are not willing to go up there without one of us. Sometimes Doug or I will take them upstairs while the other enjoys the service downstairs. Usually we just sit in a pew near the back and hope to keep them quiet enough to last through the service.
The boys have made a several adult friends at church, one in particular is a lovely woman in her late 60's/ early 70's named Jen. Jen always is eager to see the kids and chats to them. She makes sure Aidan gets his fill of brownies at coffee hour afterwards.
Today, Aidan asked to sit with Jen at church, armed with a coloring page and color pencils. She sits in the row right behind us, so it was no problem to keep an eye on him. Soon enough, Sean wanted to join them. She was so good with him, reading him stories, helping him color. He flirted with her and the ladies in the row behind her. When the priest came down the aisle to shake hands and say "peace be with you", Sean extended his hand like a gentleman. Eventually he wandered back up to me, passing another boy on the way. He reached over the pew and rubbed the little boy's head in a fond, puppy way.
When it was time to go up for communion, Sean led the way, smiling and saying hi to everyone. Since Sean doesn't eat table foods, we don't allow him to take communion for fear he'd throw it or do something inappropriate with it. Unfortunately, he is determined to try to get this little round item that everyone else it getting. He stands there, ever so patiently, with his hands cupped. I try showing him to hold his hands folded in prayer instead, but he insists on extending his hand to receive. Luckily our priest knows that Sean isn't ready to receive yet, so he just shakes Sean's hand then says a prayer while touching Sean's head. Sure enough, when Father M moves on, Sean states "Me? Me?" while still extending his hand. I say a quick prayer with him, then guide him back to our seats.
I wonder what to do, am I doing the right thing by not letting him try to take communion? It's possible that he might actually put it in his mouth, as he seems so eager to follow what he sees everyone else doing. He has been taking a few small bites of food at school (but won't for us) so he *might* swallow it. My fear is that once it's in his mouth he will realize he doesn't want it and spit it out in front of the whole congregation. It's not like I can get one to give to him in private to see how he'd react.
I feel so bad for him about his food issues. I can see that he wants to be a part of the social aspects of eating but is just afraid to try. He loves to follow along a buffet line. Today he waited in line at church (by himself, I was sitting with E and Doug was talking to someone) for a piece of cake. He got his plate with a big chunk of cake on it and gingerly walked to our table. Part of me watched him with pride, he was so careful and looked so grown up. The other part of me thought, "people are going to think we are being wasteful, they have seen that he never eats here." When he got to the table he gave the cake to Aidan, cutting off bites with a fork and trying to feed it to Aidan. He even offered a forkful to Ella. I pray every week that he will make this leap past his food issues and move forward.
Sean has made his own place in our little church community, just as Aidan has. It delights me to see them welcomed and wanted equally. I grew up with church as an important part of my life, as did Doug, and I can't help but think ahead of today about how the boys will grow in our church. Eventually, they will be able to settle down and pay attention to the service. Eventually, they will sing and pray along with us. Eventually, Sean will eat that piece of cake himself, just as he will receive communion. I have faith that God will help Sean reach these goals, just as He will help guide all of us.