Monday, May 22, 2006

To Hell With Me

I've re-discovered religion, all in the name of quality preschool education. Horrible? Yes. Possibly blasphemous? Indeed. My heart is in the right place, for what it's worth. We don't fit the qualifications to receive the discounted tuition for practicing Catholics at the preschool Jacelyn will (hopefully) be going to. I've come to terms with that; it's only an additional $50 a month. I say that like I'm rolling in fifty dollar bills, which I assure you I'm not, but when it comes to Jacelyn's education, I'm not going to mess around. There is a woefully inadequate preschool system in place here in Pensacola; actually, there really isn't a system. Jeb Bush has entitled us all to state-funded preschool at assorted day care centers, while the public schools with Pre-K classes (all four of them, no less)have waiting lists for miles. There's many things about the private education that appeal to me at this level, but I won't get into them right now.

I called the catholic church where we are registered earlier to obtain offertory envelopes. That is one of the things they check for when deciding whether or not you can receive the catholic discount - or, the 'Parish Participation Grant'. We missed the boat this year, but next year, all we have to do is: 1.) be registered members of the parish (which we are - one down!), 2.) Attend mass every Sunday, 3.) Tithe either via numbered offertory envelopes or with a personal check (for proof, I suppose), 4.) Participate in the Annual Catholic Sharing Appeal (a church-wide stewardship event), and 5.) in their words - "volunteer use of your time and talent to the various ministries and organizations within the parish".

I don't have a problem with the above - after all, if you attend a church, that is what you are supposed to do, correct? My problems are the motives behind suddenly becoming such active, tithing church members. For school. Not for any greater, spiritual reason - for the class size and test scores. Granted, I have been wanting to get back into a church, and I want Jacelyn to go to church. But I'm still not 100% certain on the catholic thing. For myself. Jacelyn....well, she can decide for herself later in life.

My issues with the catholic church are theological, mostly. I also don't think that the parish we live in is very kid-friendly. They don't have a nursery, for younger children, and they don't have any kind of junior church or anything during mass. So going to church is difficult with a child Jacelyn's age. It's hard for me to sit through a sermon sometimes, I certainly can't expect her to. I was raised Baptist, where for every service, regardless of day or time, there was a children's service. Jr. Church, Sunday School, Youth Group. The only thing Little Flower offers is a crying room, a small soundproofed room with a window that looks out onto the pulpit/altar area (whatever you call it). If your kid gets whiny, you go in there where they can't bother anyone else.

I think having children's services enhances the churchgoing experience for everyone involved. The days I have attended services with Jacelyn were trying; forget any attempts to listen to a sermon. She fidgets, and acts out, and I spend an entire service trying to keep her quiet and entertained. It's stressful. On any given Sunday we will make two trips to the bathroom. She will try and show the nice couple behind us her 'My Little Pony' panties. She will 'read' out loud, usually during a prayer, from the bulletin. I always bring two baggies of fruit snacks, which I reserve for moments where loud whining (or reading aloud) seems imminent. It's hard, and neither of us glean anything from it.

That being said, maybe this is an opportunity. To change things, or to recommend change. Maybe help to make the church more child (and parent with child) friendly.
Who knows. I'm going to try all this, and see how it works out, and keep my options open. I'll let you know how it goes. I can only hope that I'm making the right decisions.

A side note: a friend of mine recommended Pensacola Christian's preschool, and I just laughed and laughed. Anyone who knows my mother knows how fast she would be spinning in her grave if I did that, and I have no desire to do that anyway.


Nicole said...

I know I don't comment on every posting but I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. You write so well, I can practically hear your voice in my head reading to me. Hmmm, ok, maybe that sounded scary but you know what I mean! :o) You have me crying and laughing, usually in the same post. I am SO glad to have this to keep in touch with you. I SOOOOO miss you. I told Karl I would love to get stationed back in Pensacola, even though its become Hurricane Alley lately. :o| I think Jacelyn and Emily would get on fantastically! Anyway, wanted to let you know I check your blog pretty much every single day, I am hear listening. Thanks for your words. :o)

Anonymous said...

Oops, meant, I am HERE listening, NOT hear. LOL

Phil said...

you should just have your offertory envelopes made.