In the Cry Room

Confession: When I take Michael to church, I use the cry room. When I go to church with just Flora, or just Flora and Kate, I usually don’t. Kate can occupy herself coloring; Flora is supposed to pay closer attention to the mass than she does, but she’s not disruptive. So with the girls I sit in the pews.

When I go with all three kids, though, it’s too much. When Dan comes with us, he sits in the main church with Flora. I sit in the cry room with Michael and Kate. And the main reason I take M in the cry room is so that he has a little bit of space to roam.

In the cry room, M can have a snack. He can play with his cars near my feet. He can walk over to the bookshelf and get a book for us to look at. He can ask for uppie. He’s not a wild child, so I can still sit and listen to the Word of God, and the priest’s homily, and I don’t have to try to restrain him.

However, my current church’s cry room is getting out of control. This past Sunday it was a nightmare.

Here are a few things the cry room is *not* for (said the judgmental mom, I know):

1. It is not for a 4- or 5-year-old child to throw an extended tantrum. If she’s not going to settle down after five minutes or so, please remove her. Go outside (it was a nice day!) or sit in the car. I know it stinks because you’re missing Mass, and I know how hard you worked to actually get the whole family to Mass. I have been in your shoes. But letting her scream for 20 minutes, most of it during the priest’s homily, was pretty awful too.

2. It is not for socializing, three teenage girls in the back. Church is not the place you are supposed to come to catch up with your friends. That’s what cell phones and Facebook are for. And the cry room, especially, is not the place to congregate to talk about classes, boys, and/or Facebook. Please, I’ve got three children here who I’m trying to teach about prayer and church. Your whispering and giggling were rude. And the mom sitting back there with you participating wasn’t cool; she was rude too.

3. It is not for children to run wild. Believe it or not, although we are removed from the larger congregation, it’s not as if that room is a little soundproof chamber. We should, as parents, still attempt to have our children whisper, stay in one place, and not bang on the glass at the front of the room. I fully encourage coloring and looking at books; I even let M roll his cars around on the floor near me, or the seat next to me. Children shouldn’t be running, crashing into each other or the chairs, crashing their toys into each other with sound effects, talking loudly or even shouting. It’s not a rumpus room; it’s a cry room.

4. It’s not for adults to socialize either, by the way. I know that at this point, you can’t hear the priest (I can’t either), and the room is full of loud, tantrumy kids (um, one of whom is yours), and some chatty girls, but that shouldn’t excuse you to plan out the rest of the day with your mom. I hope you had fun shopping, though!

I go to church for a lot of different reasons, and one of them is to be fully present to God. Which I can’t do in a room like this. I suppose I’ll experiment with sitting in the pews with all three kids and see how that goes. M’s kind of the variable here. He’s a good boy, generally not loud. But he’s a mover and a shaker, and at 2 years old, I feel he’s too young for the message “sit still for an hour and be good.”

Where do you go that you wish fellow parents were a little more respectful of the space?