This is not a new topic for me but I just have to have a bit of a rant here. The "Cry Room" at St Michael's Church here in Ipoh is still one of my pet peeves of this city even though my last post on the topic was over a year ago.
I have avoided going there as much as possible but I always end up there at least once during each visit to Ipoh. And each time I go, the sight the cry room and attitudes of the wardens and parish priest disgust me so much that I leave Mass feeling angry, frustrated and slightly revengeful.
Since my last post, I have purposely not entered that room whenever I go to Mass at St Michael's. Each time, I have a similar conversation with the wardens:
Warden: We have a cry room.
Me: He's not crying.
Warden: But he might.
Me: But he's not.
Warden: Father says children have to go there.
Me: I'll sit out here.
On Sunday, after a hectic weekend in Kuala Lumpur and a 2 hour car ride back to Ipoh, I felt that I just wasn't up to the stress of joining the general congregation. You can't imagine the pressure I feel each time I sit on the "outside" with Aaron.
So, I walked guiltily into the "Cry Room". I felt that I was betraying myself and all the rants I've had about this horrid room. But I was tired and thought it might be the solution.
I was shocked to find that the already too small room was half its original size. I don't know what the history is there but it was cramped yesterday. And, here is the view from where we sat.
Look at the reflections on the glass obscuring the view of the outside. Also, from this angle, we have no view of the alter at all. We also could not see the projection of the hymns and prayers.
Tell me, how are parents supposed to participate? How will kids learn about the mass?
Also, the parish priest may not know about kids but he must have "people" that can tell him. Children put together in a small, confined space WILL interact. They look at each other, they know they can make some noise in there. They will try to play. Noise levels will rise. Parents will try to control this. Kids will rebel.
Tell me, how will children know that Mass is not a place to seek out playmates when there is a room full of them?
During the homily, a two year old fell down and hit her head on the pew. Of course, she screamed. On the outside, and without any knowledge of what happened, the parish priest gave a look to one of the wardens to evict the girl. He also remarked that during his time, no child would dare to throw a tantrum like that. And that today, the louder he talks, the louder she screams.
Tell me, how would you feel if you were the parents? (Hopefully infuriated)
Children are the future of the church. During Baptism, their parents swore to bring them up to be believers. It is also the responsibility of the church to nurture both parents and children. Not make them feel alienated. The family yesterday ended up spending the remainder of Mass outside.
Tell me, wouldn't the thought cross their minds to just give up on Mass until the child is older?
The "Cry Room" is alienating and ineffective. It is plain stoopid since it isn't even sound proof! Noise levels rise. The priest will look over. Some of the general congregation will look. And, the Cry Room has failed in its No.1 Mission - To avoid distraction of the general congregation.
My suggestion - get rid of it! They didn't have it during Jesus' time. They didn't have it when this Parish Priest was a two year old. We don't need it now!
Aaron is proof that children can be no more distracting that other members of the congregation if given the chance. I was weak yesterday and went in the room but he was a perfect angel in there. I could have stayed out. He knew that it wasn't right to be playing and talking during Mass.
IF the St Michael's parish really have a problem with families with young children during mass, then why not dedicate one of the masses just for that crowd. Everyone can sit outside, participate, learn about the mass and enjoy community prayer.