Fighting the good fight in church

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I’m not Catholic, but I feel like I should make a confession – I spanked my daughter in church Sunday.

It wasn’t a wailing wallop – just two little swats. Pop, pop, but I did it right there in front of God and everybody.

The day started out great. We’d finally gotten into a routine for Sunday mornings to get us to church on time.

About a month ago, we started going to First Baptist Church in Florala. It’s a lovely church filled with even lovelier people. In fact, the first time we went, they were celebrating a church anniversary. My youngest girl thought she’d hit the jackpot when she saw the fried chicken and cornbread dressing. If you were to ask her right now where she goes to church, she’d say “sunny church where we get the dressing.”

At FBC-Florala, there is no children’s church on the first Sunday of the month – a fact, I did not know about ahead of time.

All the girls were decked out. Mia completed her ensemble in honor of Mardi Gras season with a strand of metallic green beads. Her companion for the trip was Elmo.

It was a combination of all those factors that got her into a heap of trouble.

It started out with those beads.

She was running them through her fingers, making “Jacob’s ladders.” I didn’t have a problem with that. No offense to Brother Charlie, but there’s not a 7-year-old anywhere who wants to trade graham crackers and Capri Sun for a sermon. So, it didn’t bother me that she wasn’t paying attention. What bothered me was when she started clanking those beads against the pew.

For those of you who don’t know, the acoustics inside FBC are phenomenal, so every clank carried all the way to the pulpit, bounced off the choir loft and rippled across the congregation.

If I told her once, I told her 10 times to quit. I finally had to take the beads away from her and say, “That’s enough.”

She relinquished her beads, picked up her Elmo, and cradled it to her chest. She was quiet for all of 22 seconds.

“Clank” went the hard, bubble Elmo eyes against the back of the wooden pew.

“Clank, clank, clank, clank” they went as she scooted her way farther down the pew in a better effort to bother her sister.

I had it. I felt that motherly spirit well up and I popped her. Twice.

That got my point across and bought me enough quiet time to get us through the services.

Aside from that, the three of them did OK during “big church,” if you discount the hundred thousand times I had to get on to them for writing on the offering envelopes. Granted, there was one that had about $1.50 in it with a handwritten note across the front that said, “LOvE MiA” that made it into the offering plate. I let that one go. You have to pick your battles.