On Monday I posted the following on Facebook:
Yesterday at church, at one of those moments when everyone is very quiet, Sam announced in a loud and clear voice, "Let's get out of here!" I'd like to thank Toy Story, the folks at Pixar and a special thanks to Buzz Lightyear and Woody for making this moment possible.
Sam likes church. I don’t know if this is an actual love of God or the pancakes that invariably follow.
I am guessing a little bit of both. The rituals and predictability of a Catholic mass are nirvana for Sam. Pancakes are also nirvana.
After my mother passed away, I started bringing Sam to church occasionally to keep my father company. Sam got to visit with my in-laws, too. After church we all went to breakfast for pancakes: A win-win, with the added benefit of saving my mortal soul.
Each Sunday, kids were invited up to the altar to sing the Our Father. While it all looked very sweet, I didn’t allow Sam to participate. Pressure from others caused me to finally relent and one Sunday, Sam ran to the altar with the other kids, clearly delighted. As the prayer ended, the kids returned to their seats. Except for Sam. Looking a little confused, he wandered, then plopped into the priest’s marble chair. He leaned over the side, and casually flipped through the bible. He was rewarded with a personal escort off the altar.
The following Sunday I arranged for someone to guide him back to me. Foiled again. He made a daring break, commandeered the microphone and announced, “That’s enough. That’s enough.” He followed up a few minutes later by dramatically blocking his ears and admonished the pastor (who had a habit of singing off key) to “STOP SINGING”. Kindly parishioners later assured me they had often wanted to say the same thing. One actually thanked Sam.
At another mass, the priest came over to chat with the kids after a brief sermon. He asked, “What do you eat today?” clearly looking for the answer, “The body of Christ.”
A big smile came across the priest’s face. He focused on Sam; no doubt hoping a divine intervention had taken place. “What did he say?” Under my breath I said, “He said, cake.” Not hearing me the priest came closer and asked me to speak up. I said “Cake. Sam wants to eat cake.” Yup. Wrong answer.
Around this time Sam became enamored with an Elmo’s World video. It discussed religion and holidays, Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza.
One Sunday I noticed Sam focusing on the altar. Something had caught his eye. It was the beautiful candelabra.
As it hit me the candles looked like the menorah in his video, Sam flashed a big smile. He proudly shouted “Hanukah!” He quickly followed with a second and impossibly louder “Hanukah!!”
The children of the family in front of us flashed a look of disapproval that all but said we were headed for hell. The gentleman behind us giggled.
I put my hand over Sam’s mouth. Desperate to be heard, Sam peeled my hand off, and yelled “HANUKAH!” The man behind us doubled over dissolved into a puddle of snorts. The family in front of us gave a look of complete condemnation. My father just rolled his eyes.
I thought about charging the guy behind us for all the free entertainment, but instead slid out of church with as much dignity as I could muster.
Maybe Sam would like a synagogue.
Over the years, I’ve bribed and incented Sam hoping to elicit appropriate behavior for those times when we have to be in a church. And Sam does like to visit churches now and again. We have had our successful moments and we try to build on those. And we thank everyone for their patience while we continue to work on those skills.
As I fast forward to last week’s mass, a few thoughts popped into my mind. It is said God created everything. That includes Sam and all the planets.
God must understand Sam, then. Think about it. Someone who created planets that spin all day long must be a little autistic.
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