Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

“Big Toilet” and Other Things I Try to Avoid at Church

I love this sign! (from

I believe in going to church, and I believe in taking my whole family with me. I’m not one of those mothers who allow my kids to sit at home with Dad while I work on my own soul and merely pray for theirs. My rule is on Sundays, if you live in this house and are not of the canine variety, your butt is getting up and rolling when I roll. And I mean it, too. I don’t plan on going to Heaven all by myself, and going to Hell is not my idea of a good time. I can’t stand taking a hot shower with the bathroom door closed, so I’m sure an eternity of sweating without the comforts of AC would be, well, uh, torture. It’s not merely the act of going to church either that I believe in, but rather it’s the values and principles provided at church and in the Bible that I strive to live by (some days I’m more successful than others) and hope to instill in my girls.

Weapon or cooling device? Depends on who you ask. (from

It’s hard, though. Someone always has to go to the potty in the middle of service. Someone always needs a piece of paper to scrawl happy (or angry) faces of varying shapes and sizes. Someone is always fighting for a little bit of extra pew to sprawl out even more unladylike than usual. Someone is always tempted to violently smack someone else with the Martin Luther King, Jr. church fan (talk about irony, right?). Then there’s the incessant kissing and hugging. Anything, you know, to take my attention away from the sermon. I try to be proactive and give the before-church pep talk:

“We’re going to the bathroom right now so that we don’t have to get up during service. You will go in that stall and sit on that toilet and make something come out. Do you understand me? Don’t tell me what you don’t have to do. Get in there and try. Really try. You don’t need privacy; we’re the only ones in here. Fine close the door, but do not lock it. Because I said so! The last time you locked it, I had to crawl under the stall to get you out. That was NOT fun. No, it wasn’t. See, I told you. I knew you had to go. Don’t pull those panties up without using tissue! You know better than that. Flush. I said, “FLUSH!” Yes, you do really have to wash your hands. With soap! No, you only need one paper towel. You don’t need that many! You have small hands.  Okay, before we head upstairs, there’s something else I have to say. We will not talk loud or pretend to burp or pass gas. Stop laughing. That’s not funny. It’s nasty, and we don’t want people to think we’re heathens. Those are people who act like they have no home training. People who do things the wrong way all the time. Listen, I don’t have time to explain heathens to you. Just know that you don’t want to act like one, okay? Be serious, now; this is important. We will keep our clothes and shoes on. We are not at home. Yes, this is the house of the Lord, but the Lord doesn’t want us naked in his house.  Just keep your clothes on, all right? Yes, Jesus does love us no matter what, but he loves us more when we behave, not when we are defiant.  Yes, I know that song. Yes, Jesus does love you. Speaking of songs: It’s okay if you like the music and want to dance, but we will NOT shake our booties. We are ladies. Didn’t I just say that we will NOT shake our booties? What’s wrong with you? Is that the way I want you to behave? Stop that right now! We don’t dance like that, especially not at church. We don’t point our fingers at people, and we don’t try to take off ladies’ hats. That’s not nice. They pay a lot of money for those hats, and they may smack your hands if you try to touch their hats. Don’t just scream “Amen” to try to make people laugh either. Yes, you are very funny, but we don’t joke like that in church. Yes, that goes for “Hallelujah,” too.  No, we cannot say “big toilet” in church. Where did you get that from anyway? It’s not even funny. No, it isn’t. Stop saying that. If you say it again, we’re going to have a serious problem. What did I just say about pretending to pass gas? Stop that right now! If you make me lose my religion on a Sunday…”

It goes on like this until I just give up and try to stop much too eager children from knocking over old ladies as they run full speed upstairs toward the sanctuary. I’ll just state the obvious: the pep talk doesn’t always work, but at least they’re at church, right?

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3 thoughts on ““Big Toilet” and Other Things I Try to Avoid at Church

  1. Just hang in there. You and your brother were the same way. Picture this-he had to go into the women’s restroom and wanted to know why that lady had a hole in her leg, or better yet, why was that lady pulling so hard on her underwear–LOL. Try explaining to a 3 year old boy why old ladies dress the way they do. I caught hell doing that…

  2. Thanks, Alice. The truth is that I know that my insistence is probably what makes my kids worse. I really want them to behave so that I can hear and process and pray, AND I don’t want church ladies judging me (at least not in that snobby my-kids-never-acted-out kind of way)! It’s not fun. “Big toilet,” though, is funny when it’s their answer to a random question; I just can’t tell them that.
    “What should we get Paw-Paw for Father’s Day?”
    “A big toilet.” I wonder how my dad would react if in fact he did receive a big toilet as a gift.
    Outside of church, that’s pretty darn funny. In church, I cringe. I look at my mom and see the pure joy she feels when hanging out with the pirate and the princess. All the love; none of the embarrassment!

  3. Alice on said:

    You think that all those older women are judging your mothering skills with every crazy-ass thing your kids do in Church. We are really thanking God above that our kids are finally grown and totally responsible for their own crazy-ass behavior! God bless you and those spirited girls!

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