I worked at the downtown card shop with another mother who was a pastor’s wife; she had invited us to attend service for some time, so I decided to attend one Sunday and drove across town with my only child to their church. I remember saying No gum to my little girl as we walked through the doors of the church that first Sunday. Like many moms in my age bracket, I did lots of explaining; particularly because we all remembered asking Why? and receiving the same Because-I’m-the-mother response for every subject. So, believing this another opportunity to teach my daughter a proper behavior (culled from my own church-going dos and don’ts), I offered the following: A child shouldn’t chew gum in church, Honey, it would be very disrespectful. She didn’t like it, but seemed to accept my reasoning and dropped the subject.
While waiting for my coworker to arrive, we were warmly greeted by several individuals entering the vestibule. Sunday School had just finished, so people were gathering to chat a bit before entering the sanctuary. The pastor’s little princess normally sat with grandparents and cousins during the service, but upon seeing my daughter and me chatting with her mother she joined us.
Looks can be deceiving; a first time observer would be ill prepared, watching the pastor’s beautifully dressed only daughter; a demurely clad, seemingly shy, little girl with curls. I was soon surprised at the very clear, no shades of pink, facial expressions that emanated from this little one’s personality. No doubt in my mind, she was upset. And everyone else around her knew it too. Losing the Good Shepherd Trophy to the boys during today’s Sunday School Class was totally unacceptable! Her little face showed pure disgust.
Equally apparent during her emotional rant was that she was chewing gum. No one was telling her to get rid of it before entering the sanctuary and sitting down. My daughter was quick to notice and point this out to me. I learned later that many of the women carried candy and gum because either item could stave off antsy, hungry little critters until service ended, often well after twelve noon.
From that Sunday on, I carried a Bible instead of a Missal and kept plenty of gum in my purse. So much for my motherly instincts…