It was a typical morning at my home on the first Sunday of the year. I made breakfast then rushed around getting ready for church as my teen boys slept peacefully. After a short time I yelled my warning into each boys’ room, “I’m leaving in 20 minutes, you need to be ready if you’re going with me.”
One teen began to move, the other just pulled the covers tighter. I gave a final call announcing my departure. I left alone. Both boys are licensed drivers, they rode together and arrived at church shortly after I got there. They usually sit as far as they can at the back of the sanctuary.
On this particular Sunday parishioners were packed in shoulder to shoulder. The boys made their way up the aisle to where I was seated. They scooted past several sets of knees, then nearly sat on each other’s lap in an attempt to squeeze next to me. The older teen conceded and settled in on the other side of me.
It wasn’t long before there were signs that the teen had stayed up late. My younger teen had his eyes closed and his head bowed, but it wasn’t prayer time. When he lifted his head, he looked at me bleary eyed and said, “Ooh, I’m struggling to stay awake.”
I whispered to him, “No, you’ve lost the struggle.”
My son kept his eyes open a while longer, then his head dropped again. This time I nudged his brother, who was seated on the other side of me. I said, “Should we wake him up?” His face broke into a grin and he shook his head, “No.”
I decided to respond the way my kids respond to me…ask for advice and then do the opposite. I gave my sons foot a little kick and he lifted his head and said, “Did I fall asleep?”
“Yeah, you did,” I told him. “Next time, when you lift your head, just say, ‘Amen’. Maybe that way everyone won’t know you were sleeping.”
Later, my son later reminisced about when he was younger and used to fall asleep on my shoulder or my lap. In my best sing song voice I told him, “You’re a big boy now, you have to stay awake in church.”
What happened the last time your child fell asleep in a public place?