This past Sunday, while sitting in our church’s “cry room” (you know, that glassed-in room in the back of the church that never has enough chairs and is usually hot and muggy because the door must remain closed), I decided that it was the LAST time we would sit in that room.
I’ve made that decision more than once, but became forced to return simply out of consideration for the sake of the others in the main congregation.
When my first twins were babies, I actually looked forward to joining the ranks of families in the cry room. Why? Because I was now part of that awesome club … the club I used to longingly gaze at while my husband and I sat alone in the main congregation week after week for years and years. In that cry room back in our church in Gainesville, moms, including myself, nursed and soothed babies while toddlers played or colored quietly at their parents’ feet.
For a while, I enjoyed the weekly experience, believing that we were all in that room because our babies and toddlers simply couldn’t be expected to remain quiet throughout the length of mass. As time went on, I began to notice how some families used the cry room as a “play room” of sorts allowing their toddlers to roam the room, play with lots of toys and even join the children of other families. I inwardly stated that this behavior was not what these rooms were for, but were for crying babies, and for training our toddlers in the ways of proper church behavior … with the goal of eventually behaving and controlling their own behavior enough to earn the privilege of sitting out with the rest of the “big people”.
When Kathryn and Lauren were three years old, we’d basically surpassed the uncontrollable, sudden outbursts (okay, almost), and decided to have a graduation from the cry room ceremony and celebration. Although there were occasional instances where one of us had to take one of our girls to the back of the church, we were glad to be out of the cry room.
When Erin and Brandon came along, back to the cry room we all went, again noting how so many other families considered this room a place to play, talk, act up without consequence, while eating everything from zip lock bagged gold fish crackers (as we did) to having brought in McDonald’s happy meals … seriously! Again, at age three, Brandon and Erin graduated from the cry room, and again, we celebrated!
When Sean and Ben arrived, I insisted that my older children sit together in the general congregation right outside the cry room because we wanted them to listen and participate in the liturgy as opposed to being distracted by the noises in the cry room. In the beginning, I nursed the babies to keep them quiet, but now at 2 and 1/2, and still difficult to keep quiet at times, I feel that it’s only courteous to the rest of the parishioners that we stay in the cry room a little while longer.
Recently, to my extreme disappointment, I’ve noticed that biggest difference between now and my earlier two experiences. Electronics. Parents allow their children to bring electronic games, cell phones, iPods, and, believe it or not, I spotted a child with an iPad playing a noisy Harry Potter game! OMG!!!!
So last Sunday, as we sat trying to keep our own young children quiet and occupied with some books, while maing every effort to listen to the scripture readings, Gospel and sermon through the PA system in our glassed-in room, we were all distracted by beeping, game music and the realization that parents now actually bring their 4 and 5-year-olds into this room (without having younger siblings) simply to let them PLAY during mass. I was floored. When I wondered to myself, “what parent allows this?”, I immediately got my answer when I realized that those boys’ dad was actually texting on his own cell phone … wow.
My hope is that some changes can be made, and some rules can be put in place and ENFORCED somehow, perhaps through both vocal and written announcements.
What do you think? Am I alone in my disappointment with this trend?