SERIAL KILLER KID
First written 21.06.2007
“God is love, God is life, Thankyou God, Hallelujah, Hallelujah”
Priest and people sing in joyous union, accompanied by Gilles on the guitar. An 80 Watt Marshall amp and a 12 string electro acoustic, isn’t this all just a little too rock and roll for the Church?
As the priest sings, he bobs up down, a huge smile on his face. He tries a couple of dance steps. As the last Hallelujah fades, the congregation burst into muted applause.
“Now children” coos the priest in his soothing voice. “Let us pray, but first can anyone tell me whom we prey to?”
“The Lord our God” pipes up the blond haired child who looks like a trainee serial (you’ve all met him before)
“Very good” says the priest as he smiles at serial killer kid.
Serial killer mummy is very happy as she ruffles her kid’s closely cropped blonde hair.
“Let us pray together,” commands the priest.
“Don’t forget the actions to make your prayers stronger,” chirps the blue rinse Bible Lady
Everyone stands and begins to recite the Lord’s Prayer (with actions). Hands on heart, then arms raised towards heaven to welcome the Lord into our lives. I’m hiding behind my pillar at the back of the church, looking on in consternation. I’m half expecting them to finish off the prayer with a Mexican wave.
Suddenly it clicks and I realise what serial kid had been doing on the church car park before the mass. I thought he was doubled up in pain after a mild heart attack; he had actually been revising his actions for the Lord’s Prayer.
My God, even catechism is getting more like school everyday. Kids are revising their prayers.
Being the kind of dad I am, I had actually forgotten that this evening was the offspring’s last catechism lesson. I only realised when another mum rang up and asked if I could take her kids as she was tied up at home looking after someone else’s kids.
“Oh no, is it tonight?” I half screamed, “We haven’t looked at the lesson or anything.”
“Yes, but don’t worry” she reassured me. “It’s just a celebratory mass tonight. The kids won’t actually do much.”
I felt half reassured, but I had this nagging feeling that “not much” would still involve reciting the scriptures by heart, and I wasn’t too easy about the Mass. I knew the Bible ladies would have the kids confessing before they got into church.
I left work just after five, and drove home, breaking the sound barrier several times. I reckoned that if the police stopped me, I would just say I was “speeding for God”
Five twenty, arrived home, bundled the offspring in the car and went to collect her friend.
Oh my God! Out the house came an immaculately dressed little girl bearing a rose, a homemade cake and her kiddies Bible.
“It’s nothing,” said the mother. “The kids were told to bring a favourite thing to be blessed, and the mums were asked top provide a cake for a tea time after the mass.”
The empty-handed offspring stared at her friend, and then looked daggers at me. No favourite thing, no cake
“Cake makes you fat” I snapped
“And where’s my favourite thing daddy?”
“Tell them you brought me along as your favourite thing.”
We arrived at the church hall. Offspring’s friend lays her cake down on a long table already collapsing under the weight of home baking.
No confession. We go straight off to the church for mass. Suddenly the skies open. A huge downpour accompanied by thunder. It has been horribly humid all afternoon.
“Oh no, the children will get soaked” chirps a Bible Lady
“You think God would have spared us a deluge” I quipped.
Another dagger look.
And so into the church for a happy clappy end-of-year catechism service, that at moments seems more like an end of year exam. In between reading the gospel and generally praising the Lord, kids are asked questions about “aspects” of the church.
“What is this children?”
“It’s font where we baptise babies”
And the questions carry on incessantly, and as the kids get them right, their mum’s smile at other mum’s as of to say “oh no, we didn’t revise, he just remembered.”
The priest calls for a moment of calm, to reflect on our year’s work.
“Breathe deeply, think of God and all he has done for you.”
The place goes quiet
“In this moment of silence and reflection, let us be ready to accept the Holy Spirit.”
Suddenly there is a rumble of thunder and a huge lightning flash outside. The priest goes quiet.
“By these signs we see that God is sending us his holy spirit,” announces the Priest.
This guy is good. I don’t know of he arranged this with God beforehand, but he sure as hell knows how to exploit the elements.
There is more silence. For a couple of minutes, I sit at the back of the church, breathing deeply and relaxing. This is the first calm moment I’ve had all day. The church is cool and is a haven form the storm that is raging outside. It feels good. I almost feel like I’m getting God, but as Gilles slams down on his guitar strings, the silence is brought abruptly to an end. Well, God might get me the next time round.
The kids file up to the altar with their “favourite thing”. I was expecting the altar to be piled high with teddy bears, dolls and toy cars. No way. You can’t possibly let the other mums see that your child still plays with toys.
Serial killer kid slaps his Bible on the altar. Other kids put books, flowers, family photos. One kid puts his stamp collection, another his fossil collection.
One by one the kids tell the priest why their favourite thing is their favourite thing. It all sounds very contrived and very much rehearsed before hand. The kid with the fossils explains he collects them because they are imprints of God’s creatures.
The offspring has ripped a leaf off a tree before entering the Church. She explains to the Priest that the leaf is a symbol of nature and that Man is destroying the Earth with pollution. Good impro kid.
The favourite things are blessed. We sing another happy clappy song, and then are asked to join hands with our fellow Christians and pray to God as one brother.
I manage to slip out the church before one of the mums wishes her peace upon me.
After mass, the “baking” mums (i.e. everyone but me) share out the cakes and the kids’ stuff their faces.
One lady offers me a slice of chocolate cake.
“I know you didn’t make one” she says, “but you are very welcome to share with us”
I decline her offer. I want to say something clever, but just smile. “I don’t want anything of yours,” I think.
And the year is over. Catechism starts again in September. If the offspring wants baptism and first communion, she’ll have to go the full three years. She might go the distance, but I’m not so sure about me.