My children are not growing up in a tribal village. They don't even live in a small town where most people know each other. How can I provide them with a community like that? For us, the answer is church. At a typical Sunday, Peter is greeted by ten to fifteen adults or older kids before Mass begins. These are not formal greeters, just people who know us and like to say hello to him. They are in activities with us or just happen to sit near us. They are all a willing part of our community.
|Four of our deacons during Habitat for Humanity|
When Mass is over, Peter often roams the church with other children. Until we need to find him to bring him home, it's not uncommon for neither my husband nor I to know where he is. We know the older kids (3rd grade and up) will keep an eye on him and there are many adults available to intervene if needed. I love being part of this community. I'm especially grateful for Peter's hero who often sits with us during Mass. It's not a guarantee for good behavior, but I've noticed Peter is much easier to keep calm and happy when Mr. Payne is with us! (My husband is on the altar with worship team, so having another adult is very helpful, especially now with Anne. Two girls from youth group have volunteered to sit with us, too, when I need help.)
I realize the relationships with people at church are not close enough to describe them as allo-parents. I think it's a good start, though. Through this village, my children learn to socialize, to be responsible, and realize that they are valued. I am blessed to be a part of this parish community.