Preparing six small children for church is not nearly as bad as one might think. It takes a great deal of work and planning, do not mistake it for a walk in the park. Like any enterprise the preparation is just as important as the actual venture. Forethought is the key. Clothes must be laid out, shoes must be found, children must be washed; and above it all, the very gear that makes this complex machine of orderly preparation work is Wife.
She holds the unordinary sense to know which child must be bathed first and which ones need to wait until the very last-minute. She can also understand on which days all four girls can be tossed into the tub at once. This always results in a stew of little filthy girls shampooing and soaping in water either too hot or too cold depending on whom is sitting closest to the faucets.
Church clothes are always laid out the night before, or an inventory of the closet is taken. The latter is normally used for the older girls. Wife picks out what she will accept and makes herself a mental note. The next day girls are sent to pick out their outfits and return for approval. If the clothes are not one of the outfits previously approved then they are sent back again and again until Wife finds the results acceptable.
Amazingly, this strategy usually works! The girls truly believe that they have in fact chosen their own outfits. Unfortunately, with age come problems. #1, our very own seven year-old, has discovered a horrible thing, her own fashion sense. The really horrific part is when her style clashes with that of her mother’s. At those times I think the child feels a little like Custer at the Little Bighorn, simply without a prayer.
Wife has the children clean, dressed, and ready to load into the van in time for us all to make the 7:30 a.m.Mass. Now do not think that I am not a help in this process. I do in fact lend a hand when needed. I put on jackets and even oversee the kids look for their shoes; believe me I have no idea where to look for them. I comb the boys’ hair. Why, last Sunday I actually helped one of the girls with her hair. #3 came up to me complaining that her bangs where in her eyes.
I said, “Let me show you a secret.” And I brushed her bangs to the side.
The five year-old scrunched up her little nose and made a sour face. She then said in a whisper with narrowed eyes, “Daddy! Secrets are bad.”