It was a very cold morning. I’d been up half the night with my insomniac two year old son, and now was trying to get my act together in our tiny cottage in Grove Road. I think it was snowing outside and Kasia was full of beans wanting to go out. Jacek had gone to work and I suddenly remembered that it was the Feast of the Epiphany or the Three Kings and I had a feeling it was a holy day of obligation. So I decided to take the children to church. It wasn’t very far and we had time to wrap up and go for a walk. So that is what we did.
We got to the church early, the Polish Church in Windsor Road, and in my enthusiasm I went right to the front, found a seat for Kasia and me and a space for the pushchair and Andrzej.
We sat down and surveyed our surroundings. Kasia was very good, and seriously gazed around her. Andrzej too was good as he took in the scene. He, however, decided to provide a running commentary on what he noticed. At the top of his two year old voice! So, in Polish, he noticed the altar, the pictures, the people, the candles, the statues. So far so good. I was proud that his speech was so good and his observations so sound.
Then the Mass started and I tried to keep him a bit quieter. The church was full. Mainly old people as it was a weekday, and I knew quite a lot of them by sight. I smiled at some; some of them acknowledged me.
Then the priest came in. We were at the front so we could have a good view. The priest started the Mass and we began to concentrate. Especially Andrzej. Suddenly I hear an almost disembodied voice at my side. “Mama. Look. Man.” (At the priest). “Man reading!“ My heart is almost bursting with pride at this point. Such a clever little boy. People are looking up a bit and I realise he’s a little noisy, but I’m also reminded of another priest’s reminder to me, that Christ said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” So I suffered….
Not so the priest. He was opening his great book of sermons when Andrzej suddenly yelled, “Man reading. Stop reading, man!” Oh dear. The man (priest) indeed stopped reading. And let it be known that he was very, VERY angry.
“I will stop reading my sermon until this woman leaves the church with THOSE children.” And he glared at me.
What could I do? I gathered up my children, my bags the pushchair and walked the lonely walk up the aisle to the exit. I could feel people’s eyes boring into me. I was shocked and not a little upset.
Outside it was snowing. I decided to wait until the Mass ended. I was sure the priest would come out to greet his parishioners and then would see me and talk to me.
I waited in vain. As people came milling out a lot of old women took it upon themselves to tell me off for not leaving sooner. I started to explain and then thought better of it.
We went home. It was nice and warm at home. Kasia was very bemused. I was getting furiouser and furiouser at the situation. I thought I’d ring my mother. But I didn’t have to. Within a minute the telephone rang. My mother on the other end laughing uncontrollably. “Ha ha ha,” she said, “I hear you were thrown out of church this morning. What a joke!”
I couldn’t have been more surprised. Apparently lots of people who were in the church that morning saw me being humiliated, recognised me and thought the best thing would be to spread the gospel of my humiliation by phoning the one person who would be interested. My mama.
She was brilliant, told all the shocked ones to stuff themselves ( in the nicest possible way) and the friendly ones just shared the joke
Made me feel a lot better, but it didn’t make her feel any friendlier towards the church, I must say.