The conference we attended with my priest in Switzerland was for families. It was about various things, but primarily for me and my girls it was about connecting with other clergy families. My daughters have never met PKs (priest kids) before their same age. The ones they have met are usually grown children and therefore my kids could care less about their advice or guidance. At the conference, the kids got to be surrounded by kids like them. Kids whose mom or dad is a priest. They didn’t even realize it in the beginning because no one was in their collars. They just thought they had new friends to hang out with.
There was a short church service everyday in the morning. An awesome musician played the guitar and sang upbeat Christian music. The kids sang with such joy. It made me cry. It was nice for them to be with other kids who weren’t too cool to sing along. Kids who go to church regularly and know what to do and to some extent, enjoy doing it.
The rest of the time the kids were in a play group with each other. They were crafting, playing games, going on hikes and swimming. One night early on the Bishop came for a church service and the kids were complaining that they didn’t want to go to church twice in one day. They all kept saying, “we have to go to church every Sunday.” Each one of them didn’t realize that the other was in the same position. It was hilarious watching them come to realize that they were so similar. Instead of going to church, most of the kids stayed in our hotel room crowded around my phone screen watching “The Lego Movie.” Everyone needs a break.
Maggie and Pippa were so happy. Happy to be in Switzerland. Happy to meet kids like them. Happy to be able to share how they feel and to talk about their crazy parents. The kids were from all over the UK, the US and Canada. Their parents had all decided to leave their homes and move to Europe to take up a church in another country. The kids all had to either to go to school in a new language or to an international school. Some liked it more than others. The kids lived in France, Belgium and Holland. They all had things they really liked (chocolate and food topping most lists) and they all had struggles. What I liked was that my girls knew they were not alone.
When I married my priest, I heard from many people about the rebellious and crazy children of priests. This was long before I even wanted children of my own and I just dismissed it. My girls are a little wild, sure, but I think having a dad who has such compassion and faith has been a blessing not an issue. In my opinion, kids today are so focused on themselves…they always were, but with the digital world crushing them daily, it is even more just about them. I feel that going to church each week connects my kids to people. They pray for the sick, they take joy in relationships with people of various ages, they think about people other than themselves.
The PKs I met in the Swiss Alps were nice kids. They looked after Pippa when she fell. When I caught Pippa in the snow with no jacket throwing snowballs, an older boy (12) quickly admitted it was his idea. They were respectful of adults. They were polite and they were fun. It is possible to raise kids who are both. It was good to see. I know that my kids sometimes want to sleep in on a Sunday morning. Sometimes we let them. I didn’t grow up going to church and before I had kids I went frequently, but not every Sunday. Now, it is just what we do. If my kids get even half of the positive messages that they hear at church, I am happy.
Having more people who love my girls, more people who pray for them and more people in their cheering section makes my heart happy. Glad they have a church family too. I think we all need one.