We haven’t attended a church since our resignation. Until recently.
I went to a service with the kids for Easter. It was a community service, essentially, as the other church congregations had been invited and were contributing to the service even though it was being hosted at one of the churches.
I felt like it was a waste of my time, but not because of the service itself. The kids were cranky on one hand, and excited to see lots of kids on the other. Thus, they were quite the handful. I ended up staying in the nursery with them the entire time. I thought Abby probably could have handled an actual Sunday School class, but since I wasn’t sitting in the sanctuary and wasn’t able to find a program or bulletin, I didn’t even know if there was a class for her age group.
There were a couple of young girls – teenagers or fairly close to it – in the nursery as well. I’m not sure if they were actually there to watch the kids, or if they were just watching one little girl. In any event, every other parent seemed to make the assumption that they were there to watch all the kids and began leaving their kids in the nursery.
For the most part, the two girls only ever stirred themselves if the one little girl started to fuss or if she left the room. All other squabbles were settled by myself (eventually, I did wait to see if the teens would intervene first), especially if they involved my two kids. About half-way into the sermon, another teenager brought a girl in, the younger sister of another kid already in the nursery. She proceeded to commandeer the conversation and brag about her new iPhone and all the games that she has been playing. One of the kids kept going out on her own to the sanctuary, taking toys with her. Her mother brought her back to the room once and informed the third teenager that she needed to be watching her sister.
Not even five minutes later, the runaway kid left again, and the other little girl followed her out. The teens were so engrossed in their conversation, and I was busy with my own three year old (who was having an issue with a five year old throwing a fit because the younger kids kept running through her setup of toys), it was about five minutes before the first two girls realized that someone was even missing. The third teen who was the older sister of the runaway kid never even looked up from her game.
The two teens both had to leave to find the little girl. They left the door wide open. Of course Nathan made a bee-line for the door, but I managed to close it before he got there and distract him with another toy.
A little while later, a fourth teenager came in. Then, the complaints about a dirty diaper smelling up the small attached bathroom began. The teenagers were louder than the kids – even the five year old throwing a tantrum because her circle of toys was ruined.
Shortly after that, the service ended and I bundled up protesting kids and got out as fast as I could.
I can’t begin to describe how frustrated I was.
Perhaps because there was an adult in the room, the teens thought they didn’t have to pay attention to the kids in the nursery.
Perhaps they weren’t even supposed to be supervising the nursery in the first place.
Perhaps I’m too critical, or have too-high expectations.
Whatever the various reasons for the events in the nursery, it really put me off.
This kind of experience makes me not want to take my kids to church. I don’t see the point in going if I have to monitor my kids in a room apart from the rest of the service where I can’t even catch part of the sermon, where I’m so frustrated with the situation that I don’t even want to stay after the service and connect with people for fear that my anger will bleed out inappropriately.
Disclaimer of sorts: I grew up attending a large church, and I began helping out with Sunday School when I was 14. By the time I was 20, I was coordinating one of the Sunday School teams, responsible for organizing the volunteers, teaching much of the material, and running the class on Sunday mornings. I know it’s not always like my most recent experience at church. But it’s enough to make me not want to go again, at least not any time soon.