Frenchitude Lesson #57: Take Your Children To Church, And Anywhere Else

A few nights ago the girls’ wonderful new school held the Nine Lesson & Carol Service at Victoria’s cathedral. It was absolutely exquisite, and Charlotte and Camille were beyond thrilled to take part in it.

I was very excited about going too – I love such Christmassy events. We would go en famille, of course.

I guess I have gotten used to French churches, where there are usually mobs of children. French Catholics are a very prolific group of people and it is not uncommon in Beaune for the Catholic families I know to count between four and ten children.

The upshot of this of course is that you can pretty much be assured of children lolling around all over the church during the service – trying to scale the alter, pulling at the choir members’ robes, pushing that little foot bench up and down and up and down and then up again…it’s chaotic, of course, but it also means that your own child’s noise and movement doesn’t even register.

So I blithely dressed up Clem in her nicest red Christmas dress and her shiny black patten shoes and took her along with us.

Clem is 23 months a the moment. In other words, going anywhere with her is like packing along a renegade missile. I now know – she is my third child after all, and thank heavens I’ve picked up one or two pieces of knowledge along the way – that this is not Clem’s fault. This is simply what 23 month old children are; as a parent one must merely strive to survive this period.

True to her age group Clem quickly disproved the saying ‘pretty is as pretty does’. She looked adorable, but all she wanted to do was to catapult herself over the pews and race back and forth across the shiny floor of the cathedral.

In France she would have been only one of many children doing the same thing, but here Franck and I quickly realized that nobody else seemed to have brought their toddlers. Or, if they had, they had found a much better place to hide them.

Only five minutes into the service Franck took Clem under his arm like sack of potatoes and took her to the very back of the church, where her singing and shrieks resonated in the respectful silence.

I snuck to the back to see if I could relieve Franck during one of the first carols.

“What were we thinking?” I asked him.

“I have no idea,” he said. “Where are the car keys? I’m taking this little hellion home.”

The school truly encouraged entire families to come to the service, but I now remember that it is a societal thing here in North America to keep one’s renegade missiles safely at home instead of exposing them to church services and other such events.

I beg you, bring them out with you! The more the noisier, to be sure, but there is safety – not to mention comfort – in numbers.