The Case of Mistaken Identity

We sit, cold and wet in the upstairs “crying room” at Our Lady of the Rosary. It’s pouring outside. Kaiser’s confused, probably because we haven’t been to Mass in nearly a year. I know. But we had received an email from the parish secretary, wondering where we’d been, and figured it was as good a time as any to get our arses back to church. Now, I’m not saying I bargain with God (read: I bargain from time to time), but the economy has played havoc on our family finances. So yeah, a little prayer is in order. I’m superstitious, alright?

Kaiser wanders around the pews as I sit shivering. The heat turns on just as I decide to throw in the towel. Mmmm. Yeah, we could head over to Stax for a vegetarian omelet and dash home for some Buddhism reading and a big down comforter. My excuses know no bounds.

Damn. It.

I look around, wondering why we’re not surrounded by the usual group of delightfully ethnically diverse bunch o’ screaming kids. What if they don’t use this room anymore? Is that why there’s no one here? Ah, that’s prolly why the heat wasn’t on.

A family comes up the stairs and I breathe a sigh of relief. The father opens the latched door with one hand, clutching a car seat in the other. His wife follows, with two toddler boys. I can’t help but wonder if we’re the only Catholic family in the parish that doesn’t, um, go forth and multiply (is that the wording?). I’m mildly ashamed, looking to my nearly-three-year old boy and knowing that there are no more on the horizon. Eh, whatever. I don’t count as Catholic.

Spotting the car seat, Kaiser stops running his toy train over the window sill. He points excitedly to the baby girl, snuggled in a red blanket. She’s beautiful. Tiny lips, a purple baby headband. Her mother gently takes the tiny bundle into her arms. Kaiser shrieks.

“Mommy! Dat’s da baby Jesus.”

I jump. Grimace. Laugh, a little. Hope he’ll commence the shutting up. Seriously, Cole, pack it in.

I reach out to grab the Kaiser so I can quietly snuggle him into my lap and explain that no, that’s not Jesus. He jerks away and hops up on the pew, three feet to my left. He stares at the mother. Then baby. Back to mother.

Oh dear.

I can’t see the mom. Don’t want to see the mom.

“Oooooh. Mommy. Look. Hey, mommy!”

I pretend to read the bulletin’s information on the Young Franciscans.

“Mommy. You see dis?”

Glancing up I nod and smile, “Yes, look at the sweet baby.” I make myself turn around to smile quickly at the mother.

“Mommy, dat’s baby Jesus! Mommy, look. Jesus. Jesus.”

Jesus, Mary and all the Saints.

Jed snickers, but doesn’t correct him. I dare not look back at the mother, not even to offer a, “kids-say-the-darndest-things” smile. I can’t. My son thinks their kid is the Messiah.

“Cole,” I start slowly. Softly.

He looks at me quizzically. “Is dat the baby Jesus?”

“Cole, that’s not Jesus. Look.” I point to the alter and the large picture of Jesus directly above. “See? There’s Jesus. Jesus is a boy.”

He looks. “Oh.”

Kaiser sits down, disappointed and uninterested in the beautiful baby girl behind us.

Other than a brief interlude with a misplaced poker chip in my purse (The Wynn, if you must know), the service passes quickly. We dash out after the Eucharist, into the gray morning.

Baby Jesus


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