3.10.2011

A Few Complaints

I've come to a realization lately-- I don't blog as much because life is not crazy / hectic / karmically kicking me in the groin as it used to.  In short, I'm pretty happy and content--more so than at almost any point of my life.  You can blame erv for that.

While my literary ineptitude might be a little sad (you can't write when you're not feeling snarky, ebv?), I want you readers to rest assured that there are still things to complain about.

Here are a couple.


1.  Cell Phones at Funerals

Really?  Does this need to be addressed?  Sadly, yes.  erv and I went to a funeral of a dear friend a few weeks back and heard not one, not two, but three different cell phones go off during the ceremony.

Look, I understand that sometimes cell phones go off at bad times-- during class, in church, etc. I suppose that's part of the price we have to pay for easy, mobile communication.  But is our interconnectedness really worth the cheapening of sacred events?

The Children of Israel used to take off their shoes when they were in the presence of God or standing in Holy Places. I figure the least we can do is turn our phones off (or to silent) when we're in sacred space.


2.  Babies at Social Functions

A favorite saying of mine, thanks again to erv, is "Crying babies are like good intentions: Both should be carried out immediately!"   Sadly, that's too often not the case.

This one is similar to the cell phones at sacred events problem.  I understand that this might offend some of the baby-mommy-bloggers out there, but it's a slightly secret  straight-up pet peeve of mine.

When your young child starts to get fussy during church, at the play (why are you bringing it to a play?!), a movie (see previous parenthetical), a funeral, or any other social event where focus from the audience is placed on some central figure and quiet is a rule, please take them out quickly and deal with it.

Yes.  Your child is cute, adorable, bubbly, bright-eyed, talented, amazing, gorgeous, ... a literal superlative in baby form.  I get it.  But when your baby starts to scream and throw things, happy adjectives are swiftly replaced with one shared thought in every audience member's brain: "LOUD BABY CRYING!"

I think this is an evolutionary, unconscious response.  When we hear babies cry, we are hardwired to want to make them stop crying.  Make them comfortable and content again. It's a survival of the species thing.

But thankfully, we're not battling with saber-toothed tigers for survival anymore. 

So, when you see numberless heads turning your direction as your child acts up, it's not the adoring eyes of jealous parents wishing they could have the privilege of changing your child's magical diaper (your baby's mess is even adorable!), it's the eyes of some very annoyed people who wish you would hush your kiddo and would be willing to do it if the child were theirs, thank you very much.

So here's my request: don't simply pick up the crying child and rock them in the middle of a meeting in the hopes that your breathtaking little angel calms down immediately.  There's no time threshold here.  You should not wait for five minutes to see if the crying goes away on its own.

Just grab your munchkin and walk swiftly out into the hall.  Even if it means you have to bump a few knees and squash a couple toes on your way out, it's ok.  We understand.  Just tend to your little piece of perfection.

Because when they're content, so are we.

10 comments:

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I agree with you, crying babies are hard to listen to and I would never bring them to a movie (I mean, really?) or a play and I try my darndest to avoid taking them anywhere else where they'll be a distraction (for others but mostly me!) But I had to laugh at how peeved you are about it. Just you wait until you have a kid and you are sitting through three hours of church (usually during naptime)- it is seriously one of the most testimony-trying experiences of my life. Once you've done that, the ONLY thing going through your mind is, "I'm glad it's not my kid."

ebv said...

@Barb-- Ha! As I was prepping this, I thought "with my luck, I'll have a colicky baby now."

I really hope I'll be conscientious when our own little ones are wailing away at church. But for now, at least, that is a hope I'll have to try to live up to.

I also realize it might be a bit extreme. I hope I didn't come off too unsympathetic. I realize there are babies that are just hard to deal with at certain stages.

But in my defense, there are a few younger parents in our ward who refuse to take their kids out. Absolutely refuse. So we get a constant stream of high-volume coos, screams, and warbles that become pretty maddening pretty quickly.

Love little kids, but if I could invent one thing, it would be a portable / wearable cone of silence. :)

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Ha ha, a cone of silence, that'd be great! I know, just take the kid out already! How about in our ward where Charlie is the ONLY child making any noise at all? Stressful.

Michemily said...

I agree about the cell phones completely, but as for the babies, I think differently. I know someone who joined the Church because she was impressed by the way her children were welcomed into the congregation without complaints about them just being kids. If the baby distracts you, I think you can offer to take the baby out. After all, you're the one it's bugging and I'm sure those parents haven't heard a minute of church for months and would loooove someone else to deal with it.

Gary said...

I agree with you on cell phones. I agree with you on babies, particularly for plays and movies...who even brings them, the crazies?

I also agree with Barb that your perspective will definitely change once you have your own kids. Having said that, I am not totally empathetic to other parents, because lots of them wait waaaaaay too long to take their kids out.

On the other hand, your suggestion of immediately getting up is simply not practical. My daughter, for example, is kind of a shrieker. And not when she's upset, even at all. Sometimes she will just randomly let out a long shriek, testing out the lungs and such, and almost without fail it's over within 15 seconds.

I would not get through a sacrament meeting talk if I bolted for the door every time I thought she might be getting too noisy. I guess I'm inarticulately trying to say that sometimes kids aren't very predictable.

But I would say if your kid is going over 30 seconds of constant noise, common courtesy calls for getting them out.

ebv said...

@ Michelle-- reasonable minds may disagree. :D

@ Gary-- Your point is well taken. In the end, I think it should be a balancing test. If it's a quick squeal or something of a loud shout, that's one thing; a sustained cry or tantrum is another. I'm sorry if you felt like I swept you up into the group.

The thrust of my complaint was aimed more at those parents who let the baby just go and go and go and go and go...

In regards to Michelle's comment, I'm not trying to ostracize, but I think too many parents nowadays feel entitled to do things their way, regardless of how it affects other people.

Yes, I'm the one being bugged by their child. But so are 200+ other people. The onus should not be on me or anyone else to take care of the crying little one. (Although, I do recognize it would obviously be more Christian and selfless to volunteer to help, but I've seen just as many parents who would get huffy and offended if I offered to help as those that would be relieved).

I'm sure my perspective will change as a father, but I'm not one yet. And I still maintain that if early Mormon pioneers were encouraged to take their crying children out, so should we.

Ultimately, I suppose it's a question of courtesy. Perhaps I draw my line too rigidly, and that's something I'll have to work on. But I think I'm not going too far to ask that parents take their crying children out.

gurrbonzo said...

Just yesterday, a cell phone not only rang during a your-cell-phone-should-NOT-be-on event, but was answered. In full volume. And it was incredible. "HELLO? oh, it's on the counter...uh huh....uh huh....oh, okay. thanks! i'm not sure..." A sustained conversation. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Also I once saw a lady, IN COURT, answer her cell phone by...wait for it....pulling it out of her bra. Ever heard of pockets? It was awesome.

And, kids, sure, totally agree about crying, but I swear to you sometimes (and with an almost-three-year-old and a 14-month-old on the pew it is bound to happen) you can't tell if it's going to be over in 5 seconds or if it's going to escalate. And when it escalates you feel like a jackass. What I'm saying here is I'm trying.

ebv said...

@ Gurrbonzo--

That's all I, or anyone, can ask.

KEW said...

Agree on all counts.

We operate under a 8 second rule with the little bundle of joy/noise that is ETW. After 8 seconds, he has to go. And it isn't eight seconds from when he gets loud, it's from when he starts. There is an exception when we tell him "Shhhh" and he then shouts "car" or "what's that" as loud as he can (he's such a smart ass). In that case, we do not wait for eight seconds.

KEW

Ru said...

I have to back up Eric here (yes, I don't have kids either, I know I will probably adjust my thinking) but from a slightly different perspective - my dad is deaf in one ear and literally cannot hear anything the speaker is saying if there's other distracting noise (ie, screaming baby). Yes, I think we all have sympathy for the parents of the screaming kids, particularly the ones who are trying to do something about it (trying is all we ask) but at some point, I think some - certainly not all - parents think that their kid is so darn cute running around that it doesn't occur to them that the elderly members of the ward or people with hearing problems can't simply just tolerate the screaming kid like most people. It's just kinda bad when the family with the screaming toddler stays in the chapel while my pops walks out into the hall so he can listen through the PA system. I'm sure some of those oldies would love to be mobile enough to follow him. :)