So we went. When I take all the kids to church by myself, I count it as a success if most of us are present inside for most of the time, and nobody loses any bodily fluids in the pew. Today I was obliged to exit with both little girls right when the procession was closest to our pew. The two-year-old kept bowling her brother over going back and forth to the holy water font; and while I managed periodically to stave off the three-year-old's otherwise incessant whining by pointing out that everyone was looking at her (being in the direct line of vision between the entire congregation and the priestly procession), I could not stem the wails that followed her solid and self-inflicted blow to the head on the hymnal rack.
It was a relief to read Leila's words at Like Mother, Like Daughter about taking children to the Stations of the Cross.
Now, here’s the important part. You need to go there so that you can pray the Stations as your devotion. Not to “teach” the kids. They are coming along because they go places with you.Oh, Auntie Leila, you do know, don't you?
Will they be squirmy? Probably.
Will they slide under the pew and hit their heads on the rack that holds the missalettes and hymnals? Yes.
Will they have no clue as to what’s going on? Pretty much.
That’s okay. Little by little it will dawn on them. It may take years (and will certainly take years in the case of the one-year-old, of course).
The important thing is that they experience it as something outside of themselves, something about Jesus, something that inspires wonder precisely because it’s mysterious and desperately sad and also beautiful. They will sense a closeness to Jesus, if only through your own closeness.
That is living your Lent with them.
Don’t require affirmation from them. Don’t look for signs that they are getting it or experiencing wonder. Just live it.
There are a lot of wonderful suggestions at the post for bringing this devotion to your children, and bringing them into it. I love a good new idea. I think I might plant a seed in one or two of them about building their own stations somewhere in the house or outside, let them "come up" with the notion and run with it.
I have some fine arts images of the Stations of the Cross that I can think up some uses for; and some of the fold-out miniature Stations printout activity that was available online a while ago. And when we came home, my seven-year-old asked if they could watch the Stations of the Cross for children that they remembered seeing some time ago.
I'm looking forward to this Lent, due in no small part to an eagerness to share with my family and witness their growing devotion, God bless their sweet hearts.