Fact-Checking My Church’s “Cry Room” Sign

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 jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

Before I begin, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who embraced my writing in 2013. Whether I made you laugh, cry, or think a bit deeper, I absolutely loved hearing from each of you with reactions and contributions to the conversations that started here in this blog. While I inch closer to the finish line in the writing of my book, I dream of big things, but I already feel like I’ve achieved quite a bit being an extended member of the Parents Magazine family. So, thank you. And with that, onto the blog…

I’ve written about my Sunday experiences before. Remember the judgmental lady behind me in church who kept grunting and rolling her eyes at my kids? Well, she’s not the only problem. I mean, she definitely still sucks mightily, but there’s more. It all stems from an overarching mentality that children should be seen and not heard in public. And, of course, this intolerance is almost always perpetrated by people who don’t have their own children (and frankly, I’m glad they don’t). It’s everywhere, and most of the time, I totally get why people are annoyed by loud, annoying children. But there’s a difference between a kid who’s being a bratty, impossible cretin and one who is crying for help because they’re trapped in a situation where they aren’t comfortable. To help illustrate the latter, a church official (who I can only guess has plenty of children) wrote this sign and posted it in the Cry Room (separate room in the back of church) where I attend mass most Sundays…

Let’s take this passive aggressive masterpiece one line at a time…

Reserved for the exclusive use of families with small children

Instantly, it becomes obvious that, like any rule, if it is not enforced, people will liberally crap all over it. There are adult couples in their 20s, 40s, and 70s sitting among us. Many of them have beards. None have kids. Now, it’s possible that some of them have a legitimate reason for breaking these “rules,” but the majority of them are just lazy idiots, I’d bet.

Food and drinks do not belong in church. Baby bottles are an exception.

Speaking grammatically, saying, “Please do not bring food or drinks into church,” is a more pleasant way of phrasing this. And while I agree that older children should be able to make it an hour without imbibing, try explaining to an 18-month-old (that’s off the bottle) that he can’t eat a snack and ALSO has to sit completely still. If only I had something to entertain him. Which leads me to…

Crayons, markers and noisy destructive toys should be left at home.

What?! Okay, I can get behind the banning of noisy, destructive toys. Maybe even markers. But crayons?! What better way to keep a kid quiet than dropping a coloring book in front of him? Do you really expect my son to be more enthralled by your homily about “sinning” (a concept he’s good at committing but not understanding) than with coloring a picture of Batman?! Give me a f***ing break. This is Batman we’re talking about.

Participation in singing and responding during mass is encouraged.

Bravo. This is the only part of the sign that feels completely positive. Even if there’s absolutely no bloody chance in hell that you’re getting a human under the age of 13 to sing anything that wasn’t originally sung by a cartoon character.

I will tackle the last stanza one sentence at a time…

Even though you are not in the main church, your mass can be as spiritual as possible.

As spiritual as possible. You mean while I’m running after my toddler, begging him not to eat the M&M he found on the floor, apologizing to the stranger whose foot he just stepped on, explaining for the 18th time that he isn’t allowed to have a juice box, threatening to throw our television out the window if they don’t shape up….so at what point does the spirituality begin, father?

Children learn proper attitudes from your example and guidance.

Take this, all of you, and eat it. For this is the most pretentious statement you will ever read.

Let’s all work together to make our weekly worship special.

That is a fantastic idea. Finally, we’re on the same page! So, I’ll hold the kids’ jackets while you make sure they sit still and shut up for the next hour. Since we’re “working together” and all…

 

I know, I know. I can already see the comments coming in asking why I bother to bring my kids out in the first place if it’s such a nuisance. And truthfully, I probably don’t have an answer that will satisfy you. But while taking the kids might be counterproductive, we’re at least making an effort to keep the career going as we’ve recently moved on to a new church. The atmosphere is friendlier, the people haven’t scoffed at us (yet) and they do this really cool thing at the start of mass where they ask you to introduce yourself to someone sitting near you that you haven’t met before. Sure, it’s corporate ice-breaker 101, but it beats the hell out of telling my kids Batman must remain colorless (and sad).

Think I’m crossing a line? Feel the same way? I want to hear about it. Enter a comment below. Or tweet me @JoeDeProspero with thoughts.

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  1. [...] should tell his church to take a page from this Pope’s rulebook. In Joe’s church, toddlers are virtually banned from Mass. I’m sure moms would be kicked out for any boob action (I’m still confused as to why [...]

  2. [...] should tell his church to take a page from this Pope’s rulebook. In Joe’s church, toddlers are virtually banned from Mass. I’m sure moms would be kicked out for any boob action (I’m still confused as to why [...]