Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Quiet Room

As per usual, Aliza and I went to church with my mom and dad this past Sunday. What was unusual was that my two nieces were with us while my sister enjoyed a trip to Vegas. Since we had so many children in tow, we decided to sit in the quiet room. I'm not really sure why it is called the quiet room, because it was anything but quiet.

The room is situated upstairs, with one door leading to a balcony where you can also sit, and another leading down the stairs. It is surrounded by glass, has metal chairs instead of pews and features speakers from which you hear the sermon. You look out over the people in the balcony to the pews and the alter below.

When we first arrived there weren't too many children in the quiet room. As mass progressed more and more children arrived. Maybe it's because I'm a teacher so I see, and deal with, all manner of behaviors, maybe it's because I have a daughter now so I'm constantly thinking of how I want to raise her, maybe I'm just getting opinionated in my old age but I could not believe the behaviors some of the parents were allowing. Children were banging on the glass, racing cars around, talking loudly....and, for the most part, they were not reprimanded. It is church. You should be quiet. I mean, I know that younger children have difficulty sitting still and staying quiet for a long time. I used to work with three to five year olds, trust me, I know. But to just allow the behavior? To not remind the children that they should at least try to be quiet because they are in the house of God? To not teach your children to be a little respectful? C'mon.

I decided it is the fault of the quiet room. See, no one can really hear what's going on up there. So, it doesn't really matter if your kid is loud. Why discipline if you don't have to?
And then I decided I don't want Aliza to grow up sitting in the quiet room. I want her to learn to sit in the pews with the grown ups. I want her to learn that for forty five minutes of your life you are quiet and respectful and you think about how to be a good person. I'm not so unrealistic as to think that she can do this when she is little. I'm fully prepared to bring coloring books, or a snack, or whatever quiet activity I need to in order to keep her occupied. Because sometimes that forty five minutes is long even for me. But I do believe that young children can learn how to not sit in the quiet room.


Kelli said...

So glad to read this post & you explain your thoughts so well. I couldn't agree with you more and I'm happy to know Aliza will be raised by a Mom who "gets it."

(Incidentally, I was on a flight not to long ago, sitting in front of a kid who was kicking my seat incessantly. I know the Mom was fully aware of what he was doing, as she commented on it just once, but never made him STOP. Ugh! That kind of non-parenting drives me nuts...teach your kid it is rude to kick the seat in front of him. Enough said.)

Helena Kennedy said...

Hi Lisa! I just wanted to say YEAH! Good for you! I've been taking Alexis to church since she was born and we have NEVER sat in the quiet room because I completely agree with you. It's chaos in there and I don't want her to even see that behavior going on during church. It's unacceptable! Anyway, there is hope! Most Sundays, Alexis is fantastic and while she is quiet, she does like to move around (sit, stand, crawl on my lap, crawl off my lap, etc.). There have been a few times where I have to step out into the hallway during the last 5-10 minutes as that is the most trying time for her, but she's almost 2 years old and is learning to sit quietly in church and has the opportunity to see others around her who pray and are "good" rather than seeing the behavior in the "quiet" room. Anyway, good for you! :)

Keetha said...

There is kind of an auxiliary side in our sanctuary - it's fully open and part of the sanctuary - but it's kind of to the side, which is where folks with children sit. It works pretty well.

A year or so ago, my son, who was six, whispered to me quite loudly during a quite moment in the sermon, "MOMMY, I'M BORED." Yeah, the entire church heard him. :-)

I agree that children, even at very young age, should at least be exposed to situations where they're expected to be quiet and respectful.