Posts Tagged ‘ priest ’

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

Friday, January 10th, 2014

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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How To Teach Kids About Religion?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

I decided to take Fia to church on Sunday. This, after a recent vacation to Mammoth, California where we visited an old ghost town.

Me: “Fia, let’s go look at the old church.”

Her: “Mama, what’s church?”

Cue brakes screeching to a halt. Uh-Oh.

Phil’s father is an Episcopalian Priest. He baptized both our kids. His mom is the epitome of a loving, Christian woman. “Rev and Bev” we call them. Part of the deal in baptizing, besides tradition, is to raise them “in the faith.” However, neither Phil nor I are particularly religious. I would call us more spiritual, even though we both grew up going to Sunday School (and when my family was falling apart in the 9th grade, I briefly became a born-again Pentecostal. Yep. Not kidding).  Phil’s experience–which included family time, church picnics and “preacher kid” mischief–was far different than mine.

My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.

“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.

My parents would slam the door and shout, “See you in an hour!” and go tearing off. My mother probably went and got high. My father probably went and made charts (we had a sign-in and sign-out chart growing up. Um, yes.).

I didn’t care about the drive-through drop off and I still don’t. In fact, in many ways, I get it. Woo hoo, an hour of free time! No babysitter, no kids. Where I differ from my parents (in addition to the 99% of things they did in child-rearing) is that I’m way too paranoid to ever leave my kids like that. Even when Fia is 8 or 9. No way, no how.

Not only would I not leave her at church alone, I wouldn’t leave her in Sunday School, even if I was at the church attending the main service.  I’m much too paranoid; especially after my “Stranger Danger” post and the warning many of you gave me about “tricky people.”

But here’s where I’m grateful for my religious education: I know the stories. I know a whale swallowed Jonah and Daniel got thrown into a lions’ den. I know the implications and the message behind those stories.  Many of the tales/allegories are cultural references too, and I think it’s important to know them. And no matter whom you worship–AllahBuddhaJesus–the common thread, at its core–is at least supposed to be about compassion, kindness and being a good person. Those are not bad things to teach your kid. One of my issues though, is I feel like I do that regardless. Must I take them to church every Sunday to learn this? Especially because I feel organized religion–also at its core–is deeply flawed?

I won’t go into my issues or grievances. This isn’t about what you believe. It’s about how to teach what you know to your kids without it feeling hypocritical or obligatory.

Back to my church excursion with Fia. On the way there I explained to her we were going to a church to learn about Jesus. Bev sent her the book, “Jesus Loves Me.” Fia knows all the words, partially because I’ve sang her (and Emmett) that song since birth, substituting “Jesus” for “Mama” and “for the bible tells us so” to “for she always tells you so,” etc.

I told her Jesus was a kind person who helped the blind see, the crippled walk and the poor eat. She asked where he was. Instead of saying, “in all of us” or some proper church response, I didn’t think it through. I got distracted because I was driving.

“Well, he died.”

“How did he die?”

“Some bad men killed him.”

Silence, then:

“Oh, oh, I know!” she piped up in earnest. “He was smushed and turned into soup!”

(Pause.) (Pause again.) (Pause more.)

“Well, not exactly…”

And so it goes. My search for answers. To be continued…

 

Pic of church via Shutterstock

 

 

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Emmett’s Baptism

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Not exactly Fia Friday, but she was surely a part of our big event in Wisconsin last week. As was Phil’s entire extended family.

I consider myself more spiritual than religious, but regardless of who/what one worships, it’s a touching event to behold. It was an honor and privilege to stand by my boy as the holy water flowed.

Phil’s dad is an Episcopalian priest (“The Rev” above) and has baptized all of his children and grandchildren. The dress that all the babies wear (boys or girls) has been in their family for 65 years. And even though Em looked like a girl in it, he grunted like the little magical boy he is. Bless You, Baby. Namaste.

 

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