Ever since she was an infant, Charlotte has attended church with us on Sundays. She is generally well-behaved through church services, and especially enjoys the music. When she was a baby she used to fall asleep on me almost every week. She is still a cuddly child and likes to snuggle through most of mass.
Lately, I've noticed that she's paying a lot more attention to the actual mass than she used to. She insists on opening her own hymnal when we're singing (whether it's the correct one or not doesn't make a difference to her yet), and she is starting to follow along with other things: holding hands during the "Our father", making the sign of the cross and saying "Amen" when everyone else does, even kneeling when we kneel (well, sort of --she kneels for 2 seconds then gets frustrated that she can't see and stands on the kneeler instead). I even occaisonally catch her mimicking the hand gestures of the priest.
Sunday, Charlotte tried even harder to participate in the Mass. In the Catholic church, at least, children do not participate in communion right from birth--they wait until after a "First Comunion" ceremony that happens somewhere around the first or second grade. Parents do typically bring their young children through the comunion lines, and the comunion ministers will give them a blessing. I've been worried for a while that Charlotte would demand to participate, not understanding why daddy and mommy eat something that looks like a cracker with a sip of "Mommy juice" (I drink cranberry juice for breakfast most mornings..."Daddy juice" means orange juice in our house). Sunday, Charlotte was paying particular attention to the ceremony leading up to comunion--watching as the first of the hosts were distributed to the comunion ministers, and repeating the word "peace" ("piece"?) as Father Gary said it at various points. My husband carried her through the communion line without incident, and she received her weekly blessing (which includes tracing the sign of the cross on her forehead).
Once back in the pew, Charlotte opened up her baggie of goldfish crackers and resumed her snack from earlier, as we knealt for the remainder of the song/prayer time. She must have been paying special attention to everything that morning, because she pulled out a single goldfish cracker and held it out to me with all seriousness and said something. It took me a minute to translate her words, and finally I asked, "Peace of Christ?". She smiled at my understanding and tried to hand me the goldfish cracker again, repeating "Piece of Christ" :) Apparently she had deemed her goldfish crackers duly consecrated. I accepted the cracker and ate it, and she immediately placed her hand on my forehead and mumbled something else that I did not attempt to literally translate--I assume it was a blessing, like the ones she gets every Sunday.