We recently celebrated La Principessa's First Communion. She spent about 9 months in preparation. Which is nothing compared to the years I'd spent fretting whether she'd actually swallow the host. Her food texture issues have been ingrained in my consciousness from the time she first started storing mini-alphabet pasta in her cheek and hocking it at me machine gun-style. Fortunately, she's part of an amazing special needs religious ed class – her teacher had plenty of experience acclimating kids to various textures. So I breathed a sigh of relief when they started practice sessions with unconsecrated hosts.
Her teacher sent home sleeves of the things – her very kind way of telling me we needed a little work at home. And also that LaPrincipessa had gagged and hocked a few soggy wafers her way. Despite my best efforts to protect them, they were all over the house like mini-Ritz, in various stages of digestion.
We tried over and over to overcome the gagging and convince her to maneuver the host demurely around in her mouth. The only time she didn't choke was because she was chomping on it. Like going to town on a bucket of chicken kind of chomping.
We re-enacted the Mass highlights reel every night. La Principessa, of course, reveled in the drama of the moment – ceremoniously blessing herself, bowing and taking the not-quite-sacred goods. Then the sloppy mess would slap my face, sleeve, or chest. No matter how many times she tried, she'd convulse and retch – and finally would jam her finger under her inside cheek to scrape it out, flicking it in the trash. So much for sacred and demure. Week after week, I would stare at the wet mound in my hand and wonder how we'd get her to do this.
In desperation, minutes before the service was to start, I accosted the priest and asked him to make her host extra small – to break off a small piece so she wouldn't spit it out. He graciously nodded and we proceeded, according to plan. So imagine, my slow motion horror, as I watched this specially requested tiny chip of wafer fall from her hand, drifting weightlessly down, down, down onto the Persian carpet. Before we could speak, she hiked up her poufy white dress waist-high, bent her knees deep and began to pat the rug on a search and rescue mission. The priest quickly located the host, scooped it up discreetly, and popped it in his mouth. He smiled and gave her another small piece. Which she tore into as if it were the first hot wings of the summer. Still chewing, she turned on her heel, fists pumping the air and shouted,"Whoo hoo, I did it!" Yes, she did – and as usual, not how I expected.