Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Cry room at Church

The cry room.  There are mixed feelings on this term and who uses it.  I feel it is a personal decision that you decide the circumstances that are best for your family.

My parents brought me up by having my sister and I sit at the front of the Church and watch Mass.  I don't know if it was our personality, or the fact that we were girls, but I think for the most part, we were content to be quiet, play with our books or go to sleep (this I remember doing most often).  Having a young, active toddler boy, he doesn't do any of those things.  His activities he likes to do at Mass include: jumping off the kneeler, screaming and being squirmy.  Yes, there are times he's an angelic, patient, quiet boy.  Let's just say his parents are like ducks.  They look peaceful and calm, but we are struggling to keep the peace.

One of the churches that we go to does not have a cry room, or even a vestibule, and so going to Mass can be a feat of endurance similar to a marathon.  Sometimes our son is good, sometimes not.  We try to engage him in the Mass and he is fascinated by the Cross and by the giving of the gifts.  We focus on these things.  It has helped that we have tried to go to daily Mass at least once a week and starting from an early age.  My son knows that you are supposed to be quiet and whisper.  He knows this is a place where we behave respectfully.  While knowledge does not always equal behavior, he is pretty good and we have had others comment on that.  They don't seem to comment when he's having a bad day, but the eyebrows give us all the feed back we need.

Some people like the cry room.  I know there have been times where I just want to take him in there and let him do whatever.  I am more likely to use it during daily Mass because my husband is often not there to help with  the endurance race.  I have learned though that it is sometimes an "easy fix" for my son.  I like to avoid the cry room.  I mean after all, raising my son means introducing him to the expectations of behaving during Mass.

There's also the matter of during weekend Masses both the vestibule of the Church and The Cry Room can become like kindling to an explosive child.  Oftentimes there are other parents out there who have given up on trying to keep their child contained or even adults who are having conversations with each other.  That's not really helpful in "training" a kid how to behave.
I think a key "clue" for me has been when my son has asked, and even screamed, "I want to go to the Cry Room".  I made the mistake of taking him there last Friday when we went to the Stations of The Cross.  After a long weekday and during his normal getting ready for bed time, we went as a family.  We knew this may not work out so well, but we tried it.  There is nothing like a kid screaming during Stations of the Cross.  I also couldn't blame him for not having concentration after a long day.  A lot of adults can't handle the patience and prayer of Stations of the Cross.  We went to the Cry Room.  He proceeded to find all sorts of new books and things that he wanted to look at and me to read.  I tried to get some spiritual experience out of the Stations.

Sunday morning, as his father got him dressed for Mass, he started telling him, "I want to go to the Cry Room, Can I go to the Cry Room?"  Um, no.  That's not a goal.  So I got together a bag with more of his own "Church books" and vowed we would not step foot in the room.  It's a difficult feat.  There's the balance of respecting others rights to a peaceful Mass and training your child how to behave.

The following anecdotes may help for those out there who get annoyed with parents like myself keeping their child in the Church and not automatically going to the Cry Room.

A man shared with myself and another friend with a young child, something that he had experienced. When he was a young parent of 5 kids, his wife and him were getting to the point where they thought that maybe they had to split up the family, so one of the parents would stay home with the youngest and go to Mass separately.  It didn't help when a woman at the Church said something to his young wife.  The pastor wisely intervened.  He told the woman that she should rejoice in the sound that the little one was making.  He said, "It gives me great joy to hear those sounds, because it is an indication that God has not given up on humans yet, he is continuing to create us."

I also was at a spiritual retreat where young ones were welcome and the priest called them, "Humans under construction".  Construction isn't always pleasant and it certainly isn't quiet, but when exercised in a disciplined way with a mind for the future, greatness can be created.

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