Kids Will Be Kids

The love of Jesus, both as a little child like themselves and as their Savior, remained in the hearts of our children. I remember many a cold morning Greg and Dave rode bikes out to Saint Francis Convent to serve Mass and then many times returned to serve another at their own parish church.

And the older girls always wanted to receive Holy Communion.

At that time you had to fast from midnight and the girls would be up for the 7:00 A.M. Mass, run home for breakfast, then hurry to get to school on time.

One Father' s Day, five-year-old Dave looked with much interest at all of the gaily wrapped presents and said, " That settles it. I changed my mind about being a priest, or I won't get any presents for Father 's Day." We always took our children to every parade, for they loved them so. This same observing child said, "Boy, when I get big I am going to live in a house where the parade goes by." And he did.

By the time Rose was in third grade, our family was getting to be really a lot of work, and because of this I had asked the children not to bring other children home after school. However, one little girl insisted and, not knowing how to handle this, Rose said, " Oh, you can't come because my brother has scarlet fever." (At that time you had to be quarantined for that.) But it didn't stop there. This child told it all around school. And Mom and Dad Elchert got called to the rectory.

And there was the time when Rose was three years old and an aunt on her father's side was baby-sitting. Rose asked her to wash her hair, to which the aunt replied, "I haven't got time."

Little Rose said, " My Mom doesn't use time, she uses soap.Ē

As pre-schoolers Marilyn and Dave always watched at the side door for Marilynís "Papa Gene," as she always called him, to come home from work. Once Dave said, "Gee, it seems to be getting dark quick today." His sister said, "Sure, didn't you hear Mom say that today is a fast day?"

Five-year-old Tim and the five-year-old twins living next door always had so much fun together, but this one particular day I found them running and screaming from a shed at the back of our lot. They had been inside and were stuffing papers into a barrel and when the papers were lit and would flare up they would quickly put the lid on and smother it; however, after so many times of this, it didnít go out, but caught on to other things in the shed. Tim actually stayed in there and tried to put out this fire. But the twins were a little younger and they said," If you want to stay, you can, but we're not," at which time they came flying out with Tim fast on their heels.

When Rose was twelve and Marilyn was eight, they had their first chance to play lady. They poured for a tea when I entertained a group of ladies who were the mothers of priests and sisters of nuns in our parish.

I remember the time I ran upstairs to the screaming of my two little darlings, Mike and Tim, who had evidently gotten nosy and pulled out the drawers on my chest of drawers in graduated lengths to form a ladder. By the time I got there Mike was holding that heavy thing just two inches above his brother, with both arms out straight and his feet braced against the bed.

Also there was the time I found the two of them with their heads out the upstairs window, and the storm window holding them prisoner. If we had ever left those two boys unattended in their pre-school days I am sure they would never have become adults.

Or what about the time, after not hearing a sound out of eighteen-month-old Nick for such a peaceful quiet time, I learned from experience that a child without any noise of any kind must surely mean something. And something it was! I located him upstairs in our bedroom where I had hidden the twenty boxes of Girl Scout cookies the girls had taken orders for. There was Nick sitting on a mountain of cookies with every box torn open. Guess what we had for dessert for the next month?

There was a time that when you paid sales tax, you received little green stamps and a school or organization could redeem these for money. This particular time Marilynís teacher was collecting them, and second-grade Marilyn was delighted because her folks had a store and they had a lot of these little green stamps on a book, which she was sure they would not mind if she took them to Sister. But what a job convincing this seven-year-old child that Sister meant only the used ones.

When this young lady grew up, she became a beautician, and one Friday afternoon she was scheduled to do two heads of hair at the mortuary. I worried all afternoon about how this would affect her, but she came home as she did every other day in her same gay spirits, so that was a bunch of worry for nothing.

I think that the quote, " The violence of a summer storm, followed by a rainbow," would perfectly fit our blond Betty.
As a very little girl she was shy, but she has grown into a stately young woman. She was in some of the same classes as Fran and Rose' s foster son and they made their First Holy Communion together. When Rose's family would come down to visit we could hear Mike and Betty singing songs in the kitchen that they had learned together in school.
Betty was four years old at the time Fran and Rose were married, and she was so disappointed that Fran didn't wait for her, for she was so in love with this tall young man who brought her older sister flowers and candy.

One Sunday morning when Ben was four years old and Vicki was two and a half, the phone rang and a young priest from our parish asked if I had two little children missing. Upon checking, I found that indeed I did! Father went on to explain that when the doorbell rang he could only see a cowboy hat above the window in the rectory door, but when he opened it he discovered that this little cowboy had hold of his little sister's hand. They explained they were out visiting that morning.

And this will top them all. On a quiet afternoon Chris was sitting on the davenport in deep thought. Upon offering him a penny for his thoughts, he promptly replied, " I wonder what it would feel like to have young parents. Oh, not that I want to get rid of you and Dad. I just wondered what it would be like, because you see I have never had young parents." I smilingly looked at him and said, "And I am afraid, dear child, that you will never find out."

When I used to spend so much time at the ironing board, I would take this opportunity to teach my little ones many things, such as their Ten Commandments for religion class, or hear the boys' Mass prayers so they could fulfill a burning desire to become altar boys. Remember, at that time all of the prayers had to be learned in Latin. Then they would learn to tie bows on their shoes and knots to earn a Boy Scout badge.

The girls would recite their Girl Scout promises and read over their lessons for the next day. Many things were accomplished over that much-used ironing board.

We have an organ in our home and I play a little, but if for no other reason I would keep it just to be entertained when Dave and his wife come home, as they are both accomplished organists.

When our Mike was in service and was stationed in Germany, he phoned one time from over there, but I could hardly hear him because of a dog barking in the background. Now tell me how many people can hear a dog bark from that far away? And it only cost sixty-five dollars.

Our children have always said that along with all of the effort we always put into making a nice Christmas, the things which impressed them the most was while Daddy was at work we practiced Christmas carols all during Advent. And on Christmas morning their little voices were trained and beautiful. But their biggest expectation was the thrill of surprise on their father's face on Christmas morning. And they were never disappointed because he loved his little ones and they truly sang beautifully. They always said it was such a wonderfully warm feeling to wake up on Christmas morning to Christmas tunes being softly played on the phonograph and the smell of ham and eggs cooking and coffee perking.
For us the expectations and preparations for Christmas started with the beginning of Advent and the giving up and offering little sacrifices to the Baby Jesus on Christmas morning, at the breakfast table, where we always had a cake with the inscription, "Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus" written in icing. And this too was one of the songs they practiced.

My husband was a former pupil of Saint Joseph School and I a pupil at Saint Mary' s, both here in our own home town, and whenever there was a question in arithmetic or English, we would look at each other and try to beat saying, "What school did you go to?"

Then there was the time as a teen-ager, Marilyn was making fudge. She had company at the time, but thought she knew how well enough that she didn't need to double-check her ingredients! By mistake she grabbed the cough syrup bottle instead of the vanilla, with the result that the fudge was awful tasting. However it looked beautiful. And always wanting something to get even with so many tormenting brothers, she cut and wrapped each piece in wax paper and set them in an obvious place. Sure enough they all filled their pockets before leaving for school the next morning. But when they came home after school, all we heard was, "Are you guys trying to make enemies for us all over that school?" Then they went on to tell of all of the spitting and sputtering going on over the playground during recess.

Many of our neighbors will remember the time our Mike fell into a fire and burned his hands very badly. While his father hurried to the drugstore to get medicine for him, I kept him upstairs and read him stories, trying to keep his mind off the pain until his father got back. And ten-year-old Mike said, " Mom, I will really be good from now on if it hurts like this in hell."

Whenever our children had to go to the dentist, or had to do something disagreeable such as reading an essay in front of the class- and what person hasn't felt fright at either of these two things- we would always tell them that fear was their worst enemy. Also, that people, no matter how great or successful, were still people just like them, and when they had their beginning they were just as scared.

And just think! When our Nick was only five weeks old he got to play the part of the Baby Jesus in the Christmas play for Greg's eighth grade!

If Marilyn would feel mistreated, as most children do at one time or another during childhood, she would always say, " I' ll bet I am adopted." My answer would always be, "Yes, Marilyn, with all of the children that we have, we would surely adopt a few more."

Through the years, the older children helped with the younger ones. The girls came right home from school and helped with supper, and they have always said this gave them a wonderful background for their role of wife and mother. We felt that if the children were disciplined when they were small, it would be easier to discipline themselves when they were older.

If anyone commented about our big family, Gene would always say, "When Mary and I are gone, at least the world will know we have been here."

Every summer there were apple fights in our back yard. One time after Rose was married and her Cary was about nine years old and our Ben was ten, Tim and Nick had Cary and Ben penned in the garage. E very time they would stick their heads out, the older boys would pelt them with apples. Rose really chewed out the older boys for this, while the younger ones snickered in the garage. She was small but these younger brothers who towered above her had respect for the tongue-lashing this older sister could give them.

If you should ever ask her children, they would tell you whenever their mother said "no" to anything, it was like a pencil jabbing a period at the end of a sentence. It was finished.

(End of Chapter 13)

I Love You, Mom