Dear Judgmental Lady in Church…
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
The room we’re in is clearly labeled “The Cry Room.” There is a rather thorough description of the room’s purpose posted on the wall. The very first bullet within that description reads as follows:
- This room is for the *exclusive use of families with small children
* In case you weren’t sure, exclusive loosely translates to “not available to everyone.”
You are not, nor are you the parent of, a small child. The main reason I know this is because there’s n0 chance someone has had sex with you in the past five years. But also, the male sitting next to you with the beard, uncombed hair, and sweat pants (who I assume is your college-aged son) is definitely old enough to sit in the main section of the church. He hasn’t needed the refuge of this room in quite a number of years. But I do. My family does. Which is why I’m put off by the frequent dirty looks I get from you when my small children whisper a little too loudly or hop out of their seat for the 18th time. I know how annoying it can be when someone else’s children misbehave and their parents do nothing to stop it. But I am doing something. For starters, I’m bringing them to the one room in church where they’re supposed to be. I’m constantly telling them to lower their voices and to stay in their seats. I’m bringing noiseless toys to keep them entertained. And yes, even though the sign says it isn’t allowed, I’m bringing small snacks to keep them as satiated and quiet as possible. Because the person who wrote those rules has clearly never met a child, nor do they understand the absurdity of expecting one to remain quiet for 60 straight minutes without being bribed steadily with food.
What you’ve probably lost sight of over the years is how difficult it can be to take children out in public. There are plenty of Sundays when I practically beg my wife to leave me home with my younger son while she takes our older son to church. It’s a constant struggle and one that is only made more difficult when you know the people around you are angry and unsympathetic. I now dread coming to church, because I have to deal with your eyes boring a hole in the back of my head, your relentless sighs that I hear exponentially louder than any prayer for the sick.
I know I shouldn’t let you get to me. But I do. Ever since I became a father, I’ve been fearful of being perceived as a disruption to those around me. What I need to accept is that, no matter how hard I try, my children are going to ultimately disrupt something…or someone. I simply have to do my best to teach them how to control themselves, and put them in situations where they can practice those skills. Naturally, since they’re, ya know, children, there will be plenty of bumps in the road. And I have to expect that. Unfortunately, I also need to expect that others around me (you, for instance) won’t be tolerant of this process, but instead turn their noses up and scoff at us.
All I ask of you is one thing. Remember. Remember the frustrations you endured as a new parent, the sleepless nights and how your patience was stretched to its limits on a daily basis by the now pretty manageable teenager sitting beside you.
I’m trying my best here. Just like you did, I imagine. So I suggest you either walk the 10 extra feet it takes to get to the main section of the church, or get used to being surrounded by me and my occasionally disruptive kids. Because much like that hairy mole on your neck, we aren’t going anywhere. And your teenage son wearing what is essentially pajamas to church is much more scoff-worthy than anything a child could ever do.
Do you ever find yourself in public with eyes on you because of something your child did? Did it lead to a confrontation? I want to hear about it! Add a comment below.
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