A Baker's Dozen in Diapers

12 babies, I counted 12 babies in sacrament meeting at church today. And those were just the ones I could see from the back row. There had to be more that I couldn't see. We also have 6 openly pregnant woman, all of whom currently have babies. Church is beginning to feel like Gymboree.

I know there are distinctions between toddlers and infants, etc. But if it wears diapers, I'm calling it a baby. "Baby"= a non-verbal, non-house trained mini human being. One man told me today that he was lodging a formal complaint against the noise in sacrament, that he was fed up with the parents who chat and coo over each other, and let their babies loose. It was too noisy and he was going to change wards if something wasn't done. He was serious.

It doesn't bother me enough change wards, babies are ubiquitous in Mormonland. Still, I wish someone would tell these people that everyone does not think it's cute when their spawn goes hobbling down the aisle sputtering goldfish crumbs (because Cheerios are passe')? They let their babies wander, climb, cry... And the babies gather to pick each other's noses and throw goldfish while making primitive sounds. The only thing their parents do is look at each other over the mass of babies, and smile, as if to say, 'that's so cute, they're friends'. Yeah, except for that big one who is hitting the little one on the head with a toy.

Today, while I was trying to ponder the mysteries of the divine, a woman who has 3 babies, didn't notice one of them was crying for five minutes. Five minutes is a long time in church. She just let it wail. Maybe she thought it was one of the other dozen babies. There's so many babied young couples, that they have their own clique. They take up half our ward. I think it's made them too permissive, like they've forgotten they aren't the only people at church so it's okay to let the babies run around.

On a similar note, I recently had a little run-in with a mommy in the church lobby. She gave me a baby fashion lecture when I commited the faux pas of referring to a boy as 'she'. It wasn't even hers. But I apologized and said that I couldn't tell. I was very smugly told, "He's wearing blue, isn't he? Blue, usually, means that he's a boy. So if you see a baby wearing blue, you can be pretty sure he's a boy. And when you see a baby in pink, then you know that she's a girl. That's how you can tell the difference." So I said, "But there's no baby fashion police to enforce the rules, so maybe some people don't follow them? And what about the other colors, like green, yellow, brown? What do you do then, call the baby "it"? She was not amused.

Oh, well. I'm going to start sitting in the front row, where there are zero babies.

I wonder if this might bother me more because I am single and childless, as is the complaining man. Does the church gymboree bother everyone else as much?


tkangaroo said...

My friend's ward has 5 nurseries. Be thankful for small favors.

JL said...

Yikes! 5 nurseries! I don't think I could deal.

jillmaren said...

There are too many to count in my ward, too, but luckily the parents are generally good about taking them into the foyer when they get too loud. I think it depends on the culture of each ward --so like you mentioned, maybe your ward is just too permissive overall? Hard to say, and unfortunate.

Jill said...

Are you still in New York?

JL said...

pretty much.

Melynna said...

I just found your blog and I'm really enjoying reading it! You're a funny and talented writer.

I have to say, though, that there have been a lot of times where I get up, get my kids ready for church, and don't go. It is so, so hard to keep kids, especially little kids, quiet and in one place in Sacrament meeting. Taking them out just teaches them that if they misbehave they get a change of scenery. I hate the looks I get when my kids make any noise at all. If we're going to have a meeting in church where the whole family is invited (and expected) to come there just has to be some tolerance of noise.

I'm sorry if this sounds attacking at all -- I really don't mean it that way. I just think a lot of people (even people whose kids haven't been young in a long time) have unrealistic expectations of young parents at church. If we can just accept that happy noises and a certain amount of moving around and crumbs are okay then it would make it a lot easier on people with babies and toddlers.

It seems that there's just no way to make everyone happy. There are practices and norms that ostracize single members, older members, people with young kids, etc. I don't know if there is a way to make all of us happy at the same time.

And as a final note -- I do think that letting a kid scream for five minutes is way too much. But please try not to judge. A parent in that situation has to choose between making everyone mad at her (or him) or reinforcing the behavior by taking the baby out. Both are stressful and make her the bad guy, but at least being consistent with her child means she'll have fewer power struggles overall. Parenting really sucks. This is why I miss church as much as I do. It's just impossible to have perfect children.

JL said...

Hi Melynna,
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoy the blog.

I did worry that this post was too mean and judgmental. It was supposed to be funny, but I haven't been in a fun mood lately. So I may have missed the mark. Not wanting to reinforce bad behavior never occurred to me. It just seemed rude to let your kids scream. That does sound tough. I found that there are no toddlers in the very front rows so I sit up there now and it's fine. I have wondered why they don't have a sacrament nursery, in one of the rooms with the speakers so the talks could be piped in to whoever got stuck with that job. Then parents might have a chance for a spiritual meeting.

Thanks for your comment.

Melynna said...

I think your idea of piping in the talks to a nursery group would be excellent. They could still take the Sacrament in there. They could even have it rotate more quickly than other callings so no one got stuck there too much. That's the best church-change idea I've heard in a long time.

And I really do understand how annoying kids are (seriously -- I have to live with a couple of them). Thanks for your quick and thoughtful reply.