Saturday, August 21, 2010

C.C.D. Sign-up Cringe

I recently enrolled my first grader for C.C.D. -- the Catholic equivalent to Sunday school or Hebrew school. It is the pre-requisite for receiving Holy Communion and Confirmation. For most people, signing up would be a mundane task…filling out a few forms at the local parish. For me, it caused acute cringe.

As I stood in front of the religious education secretarial desk last week, hesitantly handing over the forms, my heart raced and I felt faint. I couldn’t believe that I was signing Christopher up for a program that tortured me so as a child. My sixth grade self would be astonished—speechless-- horrifed. How did I turn into a grown-up who no longer enjoys rollercoaster rides and would force an innocent six-year-old down the plank to dreaded C.C.D? I am certain that 1983 Tracy promised that she would never exact this punishment on her offspring. I believe I shouted that each week at my mother as she drove me to my captivity.

My husband, Marty, doesn’t understand this dilemma. He went to Catholic school for twelve years, and never had to set foot in an uncomfortable classroom (it was always either too hot or cold at C.C.D. afterschool) at 4 p.m. for eight grueling years. He could ride his bicycle afterschool on Tuesday afternoons and laugh with his buddies until dinner time. He wasn’t a hostage in a metal seat.

My eight years of C.C.D. caused a condition called Post Traumatic Boredom Disorder (PTBD). I become symptomatic when entering any religious establishment. My brain chemistry has been permanently altered—mapped to fall into a boredom coma at church. I try to listen to the sermon. I really do. I attempt to enjoy the choral music. The problem is I revert back to that vexed sixth grader—I return to the stifling classroom at St. Mary’s on Valley Road. I can see the utilitarian clock above the blackboard, its hands never moving. I can hear Sister Kevin’s robed shuffle down the speckled hallway, her sinister face peering into the door panel. The PTBD is so debilitating it renders me unable to daydream in church. I am a person who can daydream anywhere. I have a daydreaming dependence problem. Church overrides it. A component of PTBD is pseudo-dementia. I can never remember the prayers, chants, or the order of the stand-up-sit-down routine.

The secretary at the C.C.D. office looked up at me, her face registering concern. I must have appeared woozy.

“I’m having a hard time with this,” I stammered. She shifted her head to the side in puzzlement. My throat felt dry as I continued.

“I really hated C.C.D. as a kid. It was so….boring,” my vocabulary returned to that of a sixth-grader. “I’m having a hard time thinking that I’m sending my son to this. C.C.D. turned me off to religion.” I exhaled. I had said it.

The secretary was kind. She assured me that C.C.D. had come along way since the 70s/80s. She whipped out the first grade workbook and showed me the creative projects inside. I tried to concentrate, but the PTBD was blocking comprehension. I thanked her and jogged to my car. There are few things that compel me to jog.

At home over dinner, I told Marty about my experience. He cringed. Bigtime. Due to twelve solid years of Catholic school and regular church attendance, he suffers from Catholic guilt.

“You really said that?”
“Yeah…I just couldn’t help it.”

His shoulders raised with a sharp inhalation of breath. I know what he was thinking. The C.C.D. secretary probably stamped “Heathen Mother” in our file. It was on its way in an inter-office envelope to the Monsignor.

Please feel free to share your C.C.D. experiences in the comments section!


  1. omg, too funny bc you brought back all those dreaded ccd moments for me too.

    did i tell you about how the priest hated me in 8th grade?? i thought i was telling you and kendra that story. Well, I was a big mouth, and he didnt like it and i had to write an apology letter in order to receive confirmation!

    I also got into my first fist fight outside CCD one day, so a lot good they did for me!

    I feel your pain, the girls are only going bc he doesn't want them to be "heathens" like their mother..................

  2. make me seem like a C.C.D. angel! You were bad ass! Too funny!

  3. CCD was the same for me, insanely boring, punctuated with random violence (sister rose would whack our hands) until we started skipping and wandering new brunswick. so no CCD for my kids-- i feel guilty that they will have no religious heritage, but they'll play more soccer.

  4. I have to say if this CCD is anything like what Stephen and Nicole go to he HAS come along way! Sometimes the teachers are high school students and they play allot of that game 7UP!

  5. "the stand-up-sit-down routine"...LOVE IT! I still don't get what that was all for.

    Oh, and Marty's reaction? Priceless. Nearly made me choke on my popcorn.