Monday, May 18, 2009

The Cry Room

The Church Cry Room in my opinion has the tendency to be one of the least holy/spiritual experiences ever - despite the fact that it's located right smack in the middle of the church. Am I the only one who is completely amazed by the behavior of some of the kids and the parents (and even people without kids who seem to hide out from the congregation)? It's like a free-for all with playground behavior, concession included! Yikes.

I decided long before I had kids that I would only use the cry room to quiet my children, then return to the main body of the church. Now, I know there can be extenuating circumstances....and I've had a few on occasion, but c'mon.....there can at least be a standard to shoot for. We're usually there for 15 minutes or so....sometimes more, sometimes less...and I'm always very relieved to join my husband and the congregation.

Not long ago, when G decided she'd try out for the choir during the homily, I quickly slipped into the cry room. The first glimpse I had as I opened the door was of a young mother lovingly cradling her obviously brand new baby. So tiny. So sweet. So perfect.

As I approached the woman (with the intention of making a quick whispered compliment about her new little miracle, I was stunned by the perfection of it's tiny little head. My goodness: perfectly round, perfectly bald, perfectly........PLASTIC!!!! Huh? Are you kidding me? Am I delusional? Am I crazy? I quickly glanced to the infant carrier hoping to find the real baby - but it was empty. And then, while I was still in shock and desperately trying to make sense of all this - the baby started crying. Huh? Crying? Oh my word!!! - But as I listened - I heard a motorized sound behind the cry: It was a fake cry. But that sweet little mom continued rocking that fake little perfect baby still lovingly caressing it.

Oh heavens. She's nuts, the poor dear. (Or am I nuts?) Then it occurred to me, that it was possible that this young mom was a student who was taking a life skills class who had one of those realistic baby dolls that simulated the demands/needs of a baby. Oh PLEASE let that be the case. Please don't let her be nuts.

As I decided that this HAD to be a student with a simulation doll (this girl deserves an A+ in her class, by the way) I became increasingly aware of the other people in the cry room who were obviously were as intrigued as I was. The best bit of entertainment was a toss up between the kids in the room whose eyes were as BIG as saucers and the new folks entering the cry room who were desperately trying to catch the glance of someone who could shed some light on the situation.
Oh. And when we were back in the main body of the church, I was intrigued to see what would happen at communion time, when the priest/communion minister would typically bless the baby. As the girl approached with "baby's" head to her chest, the minister gave the "mom" communion and didn't bless the baby, but acknowledged it with a reverent and slight bow of the head. How precious. What an interesting little experience.
In a related story: it seems like every room we enter these days is a cry room. Our little sweet potato is going through a another little phase (please, God, let it be a phase!) Since she is more mobile and into EVERYTHING wreaking havoc on anything in her path (or out of her way, if it catches her fancy), she is hearing, "No, no, no" and "No ma'am!" and "Gianna!!"and "That's not for you." and the ever irritating "Aaah, Aaaah, Aaaah!!!" a whole lot more often. Let me just say that she isn't at all impressed by the serious, authoritative tone or the words or the finger wagging.

We know that she is well aware of what's allowed and what's not since she typically looks back at us before she gets to the forbidden object/area and shakes her little finger and head and fusses LOUDLY! Well NOW, she's combined the grunt, the fuss, the scream and the cry when she is irritated or in the middle of the night when she awakens and is bored or,really,at any ol' time she pleases. She'll cry out with the most disturbing screams which sounds like she's being tortured, yet there are no tears and she can shut it off as fast as she can turn it on. Holy Cannoli.....what a challenge. I am praying there are teeth trying to come out soon (don't feel a dern thing except that one little toof that's already there) so I'll have some sort of answer or blame.

You know how for some kids "the look" will be more than enough to discipline. (I was one of those kids.) Well, guess what: Gianna's not one of them. And than there are the kids who are affected by the change of tone in the parents' voice. Yeah, Gianna's not one of them either. And then there are the kids that a raised voice will jolt them into an attentive state. Uh guessed it...not her either. The child is seemingly unaffected by any of our attempts to warn, caution or discipline. (God help us.)

I'm pretty certain, she's figured out what pushes our buttons and what gets the most "entertaining" reactions from us, so we've changed our strategies. We have quickly discovered that removal and redirection is our only hope. We figured we better save our louder tones and "No's" and "Stop's" for those truly dangerous situations, so she might actually heed our warnings. It certainly takes more energy, discipline and patience on our part - but I think that was God's intention for us anyway. I'm actually glad our munchkin is like this early on, so I am not tempted to turn into one of those fussing/loud/yelling parents that I don't want to be.
It does happen on occasion that we do have a sweet non-fussy, non-screaming, non-grunting little angel. Here she is:


  1. I totally agree about the cry room. I hate going there! What is it with people treating church like a movie outing? Leave your snacks and drinks at home! (Just the other day, Gram went bananas when he saw all the other toddlers snacks and sippy cups, but I refuse to bring him a snack or cup) I feel slightly wrong even if I have to give the baby a bottle during church. I'm going to wager that "fake baby" was a school assignment, she just got carried away bringing the baby carrier? (ha, no pun intended)

  2. Amen is all I have to say! The only way children learn how to act in mass is to be in mass!

  3. I wait until the ABSOLUTE LAST moments of his crying- it has to be full blast for us to take him out. He's discovered that he can blow his passy and continue on with his singing. With the limits thing, I try to tell him what he CAN do- it's an adjustment to my initial reaction, but God is teaching me humility and prudence... again. I love love love you!


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