Should we Cement-In all Crying Rooms?
There have been times when I have banished myself to the crying room. Particularly with a tiny infant when my breast-feeding attempts were pretty awkward…and about as discrete as Adam eating chocolate cake. I was just grateful to catch a few words while attracting as little attention as possible.
Aside from those infant weeks and months, I have not found the crying room too useful. I recognize that if we build it, they will come…and indeed our own little parish once-gift-shop-turned-crying room (with a big window that starts 3′ up) is usually filled. The problem is that kids can only see the back of the heads of the people sitting in the last few rows, if they stand on a chair looking out the window. For all intents and purposes, it’s an overflow room of pews for our over-crowded Church…it’s a playroom for toddlers and just isolated enough to condone poor behavior by older kids, if they’re let loose.
I think the only way the crying room would work for 3 year old Adam is if it had seatbelts, theatre-volume SOUND, a big-screen-size close-up view of the sanctuary …and maybe Toopy as a translator, relaying the text of the Mass, readings and homily.
It’s true that these features might reign him in a little, but would still do little to train him to be quiet and reverent at Mass as he becomes old enough to do so.
I agree with Kendra over at Catholic All Year…banishing people to an isolated room does little to encourage good behavior at Mass. I also agree that we should all be welcome at Mass…whether we are restless or lively toddlers or cranky, complaining old people looking for the same quiet that they have at home.
As a member of our little Parish’s Expansion Committee, I haven’t seen crying rooms in our research of new-or-renovated Churches in our Diocese.
There are side altars and adoration chapels… and even large glass-doored bright and spacious foyers… but none of them offer the perfect solution for my little noise maker.
The not-so-easy conclusion is that raising good little Catholics isn’t easy. At times, both good-intentioned parents and cranky old people will wish lively toddlers were someplace else. Sometimes we may all suffer a little more distraction than we hope, as we pray at Mass, but maybe our perseverance and patience are just what it will take to turn distracted, busy toddlers …and ourselves into Faithful Catholics.
So…to answer Kendra’s question: Should we cement-in all the crying rooms?
No, I don’t think that they are a waste of space… I think they might even make Mass possible for some parents if they are properly designed, but cry rooms shouldn’t be used as playrooms…or as justification for banishing those earnestly trying to train their kids to participate and behave well at Mass.
As for Adam? We will keep bringing him to Mass, loaded with little Saint books and other Catholic picture books…or our latest version of the Quiet Bag for Mass.
We’ll start each Mass in the pew…(why do people insist on sitting at the end of the pew?) and we’ll just do our best to keep him as quiet and reverent as possible. If that fails, we’ll take him out to the foyer, bringing him back in time to receive a blessing at Communion.
Four of our five kids behave quite well at Mass…we can only hope that Adam will get there too.
This post is linked up to Catholic All Year‘s post Why I Would Like to Fill All Crying Rooms with Cement.