Friday, January 10, 2014

Mass is Mars, Only Spelled Wrong

If ever feel the urge to road-test your anti-depressants (and your antiperspirant, come to that) step outside the safe confines of your house, where WiFi and Bob the Builder in Czech are stitched together in a cosy autistic comfort blanket, to feel the real bite of fear.

Releasing an autie parent into the wild is a tense affair.
There are jangling nerves, sweaty palms and the paralysing fear of having forgotten how to converse with a normie.
I mean, is it OK to chat to a stranger about the weather after your child has just pooed up the walls?
All rules are moot when you have an autistic child, and parents can become as uncertain of social etiqutte as their children.

I think I might have created a new niche for myself by becoming a lapsed atheist.
Damn that Pope Francis and his meddlesome Christianity.
Who would ever have dreamt we'd see a Pope leading by example? Over the last few years I've experienced enough to make me question my very comfortable atheism.  I can't quite put it into words, but my feet seem to be dragging me back to mass.  Strike me dead with a Jesus shaped bolt of lightening, but I like it.
I don't buy into the Catholic shtick wholesale, but going to mass is helping me keep in touch with my soul and my direction, as well as reminding me of the inherent goodness in people.  It also helps that we now have a Pope who washes the feet of criminals and spends his birthday having breakfast with the homeless.  He wears open-toed sandles instead of €800 silk shoes and takes the bus instead of a chauffeur driven Merc.
Leading from the front is a quiet revolution in a Vatican that spent centuries beating us from behind (sometimes literally) with spiritual terrorism.

So most Sunday mornings I leave Himself and the ankle-biters at home and enjoy a quiet hour of stillness.
Or at least I used to.
Until Finian decided he wanted to come with me.


Taking an autistic child outside his comfort zone is like climbing into a rusty bin and asking a pal to wedge the lid on and catapult you in the rough direction of your destination (although anyone who's flown with Ryanair will already be familiar with this experience).
Complicate this by going  to mass and it's like taking a really deep breath and asking your pal to get lots of help with that catapult,  because you're going to Mars.

"yep, I think the church is that way"

So my gorgeous little boy was standing in front of me saying "go with Mammy" and fixing me with his lovely blue eyes.
I was helpless to resist, but I had a few things to consider.

I thought about how his beautiful little voice would echo around the high walls as he sang his favourite line from the Family Guy song.... "and sex on TV".  I wondered would 200 Catholics be able to appreciate the fact that my boy can speak at all, and ignore the words of his interesting, if potty-mouthed, hymns.
I wondered would be get really upset about the wrongness of leaving the tabernacle door open and bolt up onto the altar to close it.
I wondered if my neighbours would  avoid my snorting, oddly moving boy and feel irritated at his inability to keep silent.

There was only one way to find out.

So we climbed into our rusty bin (OK, it was our 10 year old Ford Mondeo) and were catapulted over to mass.
We were almost astronauts as it was only one consonant away from Mars.

He stimmed, sat, stood, wriggled, sang, grunted, waved, clapped, picked his nose, lay down, hugged me and drove his digger up and down our seat while brmmmmmming happily.
I don't know if I was inspired by God or the Devil, but a calmness came over me and I felt that if this was the worst he could do, then all was good.  No one ever died because a child whooped along to the choir.
And funnily enough, the gospel was about acceptance, so maybe God does have a sense of humour after all.

mass is at twelve o' clock every Sunday

We managed about half of it before Finian announced loudly that he had to pee NOW, so it was time to go.

We've been  a few times together since then, and the nice thing is that when he chooses to stay at home, my neighbours ask about him.
I guess he makes an impression.

And now an Irish man is queuing up to buy a one way ticket to Mars, only he's hoping to get there in a rocket and not in a rusty old Mondeo.
But I gotta tell you Dr Joe Roche, going to Mars is a piece of piss.  Try going to mass with an autistic kid.


  1. Delighted your back posting. Loved every line and apt for me at mo...after studying practical philosophy i decided to bring my atheist ass into the Unitarian church stephens green and have loved every Sunday I can go to service. Internet recordings available for when I'm not. My 2 NT boys often accompany me and they love the Sunday Club. So bringing Emmet is on my wishlist this've made me even more determined. Thanks Jean

    1. Hi Lorraine, thanks so much for your comment. Your course sounds fascinating! Good luck with your plans for Emmet XXX

  2. Lovely break from dissertation! Reminds me of the time we went to Steve and Michelle's wedding and during the ceremony Connor impatiently and very loudly asked "When are they going to kiss?" The funny thing is I was actually thinking the same think... you have to love the brutal honesty of those with ASC. Next blog I want to hear all about his new role as choir boy? I mean he likes theme tunes so maybe?
    Keep writing Jean... it always makes me smile/snort at parts :D

    Hannah xx

    1. I can hear Connor saying that....I'm just surprised he didn't ask if they could have babies now lol. The honesty of autistic people is something I love as well. I don't know if Finian would last long as a choir boy tho....he does have a fondness for smutty lyrics XXX

  3. Jean, first up, let me just say that I was thrilled to see your post show up in my blog feed. I really enjoyed your older posts so have missed the fact that you haven't been writing. I hope all is okay for you and yours.
    You tell a wonderful story and this post is no exception. It's great that Finian was so cool in church and in fact the way he acted sounds pretty regular! My nephew is a choir boy and believe me he has a fondness for smutty lyrics.... in fact he is probably the naughtiest choir boy in all of England! Keep writing, please! xx

    1. Thanks for that Bright Side. I can easily picture Finian as a naughty choir boy XXX

  4. Ditto everything that the Bright Side of Life said and so glad that Finian was welcomed in Church, there must be some lovely parishioners in your part of the world. Wishing you lots more happy carolling :)

    1. Lovely to hear from you Blue Sky. Yes, the locals seem to be really cool about him, even though he does make his presence felt. XXX

  5. oh lordie. If the house of god can't cope with one the many variations of "angels" that are on this earth, then feck em.

    On the other hand Jean, I think you need to find a new "thing" you can do completely on your own. Fight club? Roller Derby?

    1. Love the idea of joining a fight club...XXX

  6. I too am delighted to see you back blogging Jean and love your new look! And your writing too, of course.
    I have missed mass for ages and only started going back recently. You know, I really do feel a sense of calm when I go. I still get bored and my mind wanders but I am always glad I went. Getting a teen boy to go is quite another matter. And you should hear his arguments as to why it's a waste of time! Don't know where he gets it from!

    Great that Finian enjoying 'going with mammy' and that he's making such a good impression :-)

    xx Jazzy

    1. I love any opportunity to show him off! I don't make any of my kids go, as I remember HATING that when I was younger. Finian hasn't wanted to come with me lately so maybe he's preparing for his teens lol XXX