For most of Corrigan’s life I have kept him from church. The main reason we stayed away was the fear of germs. We have a loyal and faithful congregation that do not let a little sniffle keep them from the pews and in the tiny little nursery you can always find a little one with a non-stop runny nose. Faithful people do not let a common cold, or much of anything really, keep them from the Word but that common cold could spell trouble for Corrigan.
I will admit that as he became a bit older, his behavior alone kept me from walking through the church doors. His frustration at being unable to communicate, coupled with anxiety issues and inability to focus on task led to tantrums of Biblical proportions and I didn’t know how to deal with him in such a closed setting.
Once he entered school though, I could no longer could use those reasons for keeping him from learning about God. He is exposed to germs in his Preschool class and his teachers told me that the entire first two marking periods were all about learning the basics of class routine. Following basic instructions, sitting to complete a task, etc. Each day, at pickup, I hear that he is listening better and following directions more and more.
Over the years, Mark and Connor still got up on Sunday mornings and went to worship but I stayed behind with Cor and we listened to Sunday morning church on the AM radio and played with toys. A few weeks after school began, in early September, we decided to test the waters and take Corrigan to church.
To say that it was a disaster is an understatement. I was absolutely horrified at his behavior and felt awful that my kid had been such a distraction for the others in his class. I left that day with tears in my eyes, a pounding in my head and anger in my heart. I hadn’t taken him back since.
This week was our church’s Old Fashioned Round Up Sunday and Corrigan had been getting great reviews from his PreK teacher about his great participation in morning “opening” and was sitting for lessons, so it felt right to try once more.
I’m glad that we did.
I didn’t get a photo of Corrigan in his snake-skinned cowboy boots but he looked adorable in his western wear, as did all of the kids, and he was excited when he went to class and saw so many friends to play with.
He played with legos and actually willingly participated in clean-up time. He colored when it was time to do so, and this time he used the paper instead of the table! As you can see (above) he much preferred lining up his crayons and shouting out the color (Wewwo!), but he is sitting. In a chair. For extended periods of time!
His newest infatuation is rainbows, which likely has to do with his new infatuation with colors. He loves to point up to the sky and tell you the things that are up there. WAINBOW! AIR-PEE-YANES! FUTTERFIES! and when he sees any two colors side-by-side he starts singing a song from Barney about rainbows and sunshine. When he spotted a Barney book, with rainbows, in his church class there was no moving him from this spot.
I was surprised that he is showing interest in puzzles that are kind of complicated. At home we still use the big, chunky puzzles that have pieces with easy to grab pegs and obvious puzzle spots but in church, their supply is quite a bit older and all have many small pieces. He was, of course, drawn to the one that had letters and right away went to work matching the Upper Case letters to the Lower Case ones.
In no time, he had a new friend to come and help work on the puzzle and when I tensed up, assuming he would hit at her to prevent her from touching the pieces, I was super pleased to see that he instead welcomed her, even handed her a piece to start and didn’t get upset when a third friend joined the fun.
The biggest surprise of all was when he agreed to put on the “armor of God” like several of his classmates did after hearing the story of Goliath. And no one was hit in the face with the sword either. Sweet!
He had enough of class about 15 minutes before it ended but it worked out fine because Mark and Connor wanted to stay for Sunday school and there was a church picnic to follow, so I needed to get him out to the car and hooked up to his feeding pump. Corrigan and I took a nice long ride, grabbed him some fries and at noon came back to church to eat with our friends.
He was exhausted by then and still hooked up to his feeding pump so when we got downstairs for lunch he happily sat for a bit while we ate.
I normally make every attempt possible to not tube feed Corrigan in public but I had no choice on Sunday because we had to go straight from church to a birthday party and he needed his meds and nutrition. Is it weird that it makes me sad to look at the photo (above) and see everyone else eating and not a bit of food in front of Corrigan? Maybe some day.
Several ladies from church, after our original attempt in September, emailed me to let me know that they didn’t think badly of us, that Corrigan was not a distraction and that I should keep trying. Some even offered to stay with him, in my place, to allow me to sit and hear The Word without distraction but I’m not quite ready for that yet. Corrigan is a conundrum to those that do not understand his behaviors and is practically unintelligible when he tries to talk (though I know what he is saying-plus he has signs he has modified to convey need) so for now, I think I need to stay in class and watch from a distance but I very much appreciate your messages of love and support. I heard them in my head when I walked in this past Sunday. Your words pushed me forward.
All in all I would call Sunday a success. Yes, he had a few meltdowns but he had far more good moments than bad ones and the morning didn’t end up with me crying in the car and feeling like a mom that has no control of her kid.