Sorry, so sorry! I have to interrupt my Del Sur vacation posts for a brief musing on Mother’s Day.
The children’s choir sang at our church Sunday, for Mother’s Day, and Martin sang with them. In addition, Martin was selected as one of three children to read a Bible verse, in front of the whole congregation. He was assigned 1 John 4:19: “We love because He first loved us.”
We began attending this church three years ago, after our family moved out of the City. Almost immediately, Martin began participating in the children’s activities, assisted by the unbelievable coincidence (or divine intervention?) of a Sunday school teacher who had recovered her own son from autism. For the first year, I was too nervous to let Martin participate alone, so I trailed him everywhere. I trailed him to the front of the church when the kids gathered around the pastor for children’s time, because he liked to wander to the organ and hit keys, or make himself at home in the choir’s box.
“Maria!” the pastor called one Sunday as I crept toward the chancel during children’s time, ready to check Martin, who was monopolizing the discussion. “Maria, please sit down. Martin is fine.” Of course, the congregation laughed. I was so embarrassed. After services, I asked whether I shouldn’t come quiet Martin when he talked too much. The pastor responded, “When you came here a year ago, Martin was too scared to open his mouth around me. If now he’s talking a little too much, I can handle that.”
I trailed him to Sunday school in the basement, because I didn’t want the volunteer leaders to feel burdened.
“No, you can’t come,” the Sunday school teacher told me one day. “Go back to your seat. I will send one of the older kids to get you if Martin has any trouble.” When I tried to sneak down and peek through the door, she caught me and shooed me back upstairs.
I trailed him to Tuesday afternoon kids’ club, or sent an assistant along, to make sure he could participate fully and the other children were kind. The kids’ club can be overwhelming; in fact, only this month have I allowed Martin to attend alone—which means Martin is now fully, independently participating in church.
Which brings us to this Sunday.
Adrian and I sat together, five or six rows from the front. Adrian doesn’t usually attend church, but Saturday evening at dinner, Martin had grabbed Adrian’s hand and asked so sweetly, “Daddy, will you not go to the gym tomorrow morning and come to the church to watch me instead?” During the opening hymns and readings, Martin sat with us, clutching the note card with 1 John 4:19.
When the children proceeded to the chancel to sing, Martin led the pack. Their first song, “Praise Him in the Morning,” involved hand gestures for morning, sun, serve, and so forth, and Martin more or less kept up. Then they sang the first verse of “The B-I-B-L-E,” stopping to allow the three children with Bible verses to read. Martin was third. He jumped and flapped his hands for just an instant while he waited, kind of a microburst of nervous excitement. When his turn came, with minimal prompting from a 10-year-old girl, Martin stepped to the microphone and said, “‘We love because He first loved us.’ First John, chapter four, verse 19.” He accentuated the –teen of 19 too much; other than that, the performance was stellar. Finally the children sang another verse of “The B-I-B-L-E” (all the verses are pretty much the same) and a concluding number before receiving their applause and scampering down the aisle to Sunday school.
Adrian recorded the whole performance on his iPhone. I watched from my seat, no concern that I would need to get to the chancel and assist or intervene. Even a year ago, I would have been on the edge of my seat with trepidation, ready to spring to action in case of disruption. This weekend, Adrian and I could have been any two parents proud of their kid.
During coffee hour, an older man I’ve smiled at but don’t recall ever speaking with approached me and said, “Your son did so well today. Even in the time I’ve known him, he’s grown so much.”
It’s going to take a lot to beat this Mother’s Day.