Sunday, November 13, 2011

Suffer the Little Children

I love attending church. It is a continuation of the love relationship I have with God. Our church is medium-ish, with about 600-700 in attendance on any given Sunday.

Today, I sat by myself as Mr. Tejano had was ushering and Teenaged Daughter sat with  teens on the other side of the church. A young couple came in just before services started and sat down the pew from me. I smiled and greeted them, knowing them slightly. Their son, three years old, smiled and waggled his little fingers at me, too, which charmed me to my toes. He was dressed in an adorable vest and tie, with his hair sharply combed into place.

As the service started, he worked his way down the pew towards me. I love kids, and I am used to having them around me. I am not accustomed, however, to some of the things that ensued.

He talked to me loudly, and while I could make out some of it, I was more focused on getting him to be quieter as we were sitting quite close to the front and I didn't want him to be a distraction.

The more I interacted with him, the more comfortable with me he became. He patted my knee repeatedly when I switched my gaze from him to the pastor. By now I was beginning to wonder why his parents hadn't dropped him off in one of the several very nice nurseries we have in the church.

I ignored his antics as best I could and he became oddly quiet. I looked down and he was digging through my purse. I clasped his hands in mine, smiled, and softly said, "No, we don't do that!"

I looked over at his parents and they were oblivious to his actions. I switched my purse to the other side of me and looked back up to follow the sermon.

I felt something under my legs, and sure enough, he was burrowing under my legs to get to the other side of me. When he popped up, he reached into my purse and before I could grab his hands, pulled out a container of Tic Tacs. "Please, please!" he begged, gesturing to his mouth.

Thinking if he was appeased with a Tic Tac he might abandon me and go back to his parents, I scooted down, tapped his mom on the arm, told her he wanted one, and asked if I could give him one.

She smiled and rolled her eyes a bit. "I don't know why people are always wanting to give him things like that, but if you want to, go ahead."

I restrained myself from commenting, but shook one out into his hand. He gobbled it down.

He did not abandon me at all, but stuck to me even closer. The man in front of me, sensing my dilemma, turned around to shake the little boy's hand.

"No! No want ugly man! Want pretty lady!" he cried loudly as he scrambled into my lap. I looked the parents' way again, but they were deeply engrossed in the sermon and paid no attention to him, despite his cries against the man in the pew in front of us.

I let him sit in my lap while I tried to plot a course of action. He reached for my purse again and I was pushing it farther from him when the unthinkable happened. I was wearing a new, expensive, silk blend skirt this morning that was a birthday present. I love it and was enjoying wearing it. Before I knew it, he cocked his head back, scrunched his face up, and let loose with a huge sneeze, expelling the contents of his sinuses on the front of my new skirt. Silk blends do not adapt well to moisture and soon a widening, wet ring developed around too- vile- to- be- mentioned other things on my right thigh.

I was in a momentary state of paralytic shock over this when the next unthinkable thing happened. He evidently wasn't satisfied with his large expulsion with the sneeze and felt the urge to clear his throat, too.

In the area just to the left of the sneeze stain, he spat, SPAT! on my skirt. If someone had punched me in the face, I don't think I could have been in greater shock. Then, administering the coup de grace, he jumped off my lap, grabbed the hem of my skirt and blew his nose into it.

"Ahhh!" he sighed contentedly as he bounced off down the pew back to his parents.

When he reached his mom, he put his arms around her and kissed her. She smiled at him and ruffled his hair.

My mouth must have still been open. "He just has such a sweet way with people- he brings so much joy into the lives of everyone he's around," she cooed.

I'm beginning to understand in a new way what Jesus meant when He said, "Suffer the little children..."


  1. I'm speechless. Absolutely speechless. I can't believe the parents' (specifically the mother's) reaction to all of this; that they were not aware of their child's actions. I would have been mortified if my child would have done a tenth of what this child did!

    I love children, like I know you do Shelly, and I like being with them. A lot of people might disagree with me, but I don't think at a young age like this they should be in the 'big church' but if there is an alternative class for them to be in geared to their level of understanding, I think they should be there. Lots of people like to have their kids with them during church and I realize some denominations/religions don't offer an alternative, but I feel at times it can be a distraction/disruption to have the little ones in 'big church'.

    I hope the skirt is fixable, but I'm sure every time you wear it now you are going to remember this encounter.


  2. Betty: I was just floored. I have very strong opinions that children need to be trained at a very early age on appropriate behavior, so that's why it was rankling me the way the paretns were acting. I think they need more training than he does. And since we have appropriate nurseries and children's classes available for all ages, he really should have been in there with kids his own age.

    I am taking the skirt to the dry cleaners tomorrow, and hoping again hope...

  3. Oh, Shelly!!! You described the Munchkin from hell! Remember those Chucky movies? (LOL) I can only imagine what he does in restaurants and movie theaters. I laughed nervously as I read this but it's really no laughing matter. What happened to you shouldn't have been allowed to happen. It reminds me of the letters that Ann Landers used to answer in her column. I have often witnessed scenarios like this one in which parents allow their kids to run loose unattended in public places, make noise, cause distraction and disruption and generally make a nuisance of themselves. The parents either turn a blind eye to it or, worse yet, think it's cute. You should report those parents so that they can be advised to drop off their little darling at the nursery next time they plan on attending church services. I hope your garments aren't ruined, dear friend!

  4. Parents who ignore their children in public places amaze me. I don't understand it at all. I come from a family where if a child is misbehaving somewhere he is taken out and talked to and perhaps punished. I grew up in a church where the children (myslelf included) had an hour of lessons and then an hour of adult church service. I hated it, but we were all very well behaved back in the fifties! Parents gave spankings back then!

    I taught my kids to behave at restaurants, church etc. and my kids taught their kids. We never had a problem with them bothering people.

  5. Wow, you poor thing. The mom was unbelievable. Some parents do not realize the harm their kids do. I am sure she would have raised a havoc if you has spoken a word. We have o be patient with kids but OMG how much?

  6. Shady: It really is sad because I think this generation of parents has, in general, lost wisdom along the way. I don't see it getting any better, either, unfortunately.

    I did think of evil munchkins a time or two this morning! But really, I guess it is more the parents' fault than the little boy's. I hope they come to their senses before it is too late!

  7. Belle: I was raised the same way, too. We wouldn't have even had a thought to behaving that way, nor would my kids, and I'm sure yours, too. Common sense has to rear its head sometime soon or we are going to be in some trouble in the future.

  8. Munir: I thought that- enough is enough. Patience is good to a point, but then reason has to take over, and it was missing in those parents' lives, for sure.

  9. I'm not at all surprised. Some parents just seem oblivious or think everything their little darlings do is so cute. And I'm amazed that so many parents will defend their kids' indefensible actions. When I was a kid, if a teacher sent a note home about one's behavior, the kid caught hell from the parents. Now, too often, parents storm off to give the teacher hell. It's so sad because the kids don't learn how to behave, what's appropriate or what's not. I really do hope the dry cleaner can work a miracle.

  10. Dr. Kathy: So many societal woes could be cured with competent parenting. Parents today aare so quick to assign blame ANYWHERE but their own kids. Arghhhhhh!!! It's so frustrating.

    And thanks about the skirt. I've already been preparing myself in case it is not salvageable.

  11. Deraest Shelly,
    Wow, what a church day you had!!!
    This boy is unbelievably misbehaved and without proper discipline.... I've seen many restless kids teaching at home (school kids, though), since last 10years it is getting hard to let them concentrate.
    After my hubby's retirement, I'm reducing the number of students I teach. Hehe, good thing to me.
    So Sorry to hear about your precious skirt.

    Much Love, my friend, Orchid*

  12. What a crazy day you had!

    We get kids that qualify for behavior in our preschool and most times than not, they shape up once they are in a structured environment. Their problems come from parenting. Not to say that's always the case but we do see a lot of it.

  13. Oh NO! How awful! What an awful little monster! His mother should be spanked.

    I hope your skirt recovers. I would be livid. You are so sweet to not say anything to the oblivious parents. They obviously would not have cared anyway.

  14. Orchid: I really do think their attention spans are lessing with each generation, and I'm sure we have tv, video games, etc., to thank for a lot of it. I feel sad for these kids. They will never learn how to get ahead socially, and thus advance themselves in other areas of life.

  15. Saimi: I with you- I think all kids crave some structure in their lives. They probably feel like they are living out of control all of the time and that is never comfortable. I wish parents would wise up-

  16. Crystal: It is definitely the fault of his parents. I just don't understand their thought processes. We'll see today what the dry cleaners say...sigh.

  17. You certainly can't blame the child. It's obvious that the parents pay no attention to him. They need to open their eyes or he's going to be even worse as he gets bigger. But either way, that is just gross.

  18. Barb: At that age, the blame has to be squarely on the parents. I just can't get how they think he's going to be ok acting like that-

  19. Oh. My. Word. I can't believe the parents weren't watching better. I mean I had one who used to melt down on occassion (badly) but I NEVER allowed them to go unattended. You haven't prayed for patience, recently, have you? Have you ever heard 'when I pray for patience, what I get is practice'? I don't think I could have held my tongue with the parents though--I would have told them if they brought their child into the service, they needed to watch him and make an effort to control his behavior.

  20. Hart: Ha! Maybe patience was supposed to be my lesson for the day. I was just so shocked at the turn of events I couldn't even process thoughts for a minute. Next Sunday, if I see them, I am going to speak with the mom and let her know what happened and that he would be much happier in the nursery (as would everyone else!).

  21. First of all, gosh, you have 600 - 700 people attending your Church on an average Sunday. That's a lot of people. Unfortunate then, that this dear little cherub found his way to you!! The story started off quite sweetly, and what you would expect from a little toddler, but then, the ending, well you could have blown me down with a feather! I do hope that your lovely skirt isn't permanently ruined! I agree with the others, what on earth were the parents thinking about, letting him just stay with you like that. It really was SO different in my day!! I'm always amazed when I'm out and about and see young children misbehaving - in a restaurant for example. The parents just seem totally oblivious and don't care what their offspring are up to, as long as they aren't troubling THEM!!

  22. Thisisme: Well, we do have a lot of churches around here, I think. Of all the people to sit next to me...

    I do think it's more than just apathy on the parents' part. I think they willingly choose to ignore them because they know other people will be on the lookout for the kids and thus abdicate completely their roles as parents. So frustrating to encounter people like that!

  23. Shelly I was laughing and at the same time commiserating with you all the way through your story. Oh woe unto you! I find the more unwelcome the behavior of a young child the deafer and dumber the parents become. Why? I don't know, but it sure rings true.

    I hope the cleaning bill is not too high and the 'little boogers' come clean!

  24. Sush: We had a cow who completely abandoned her calf, refusing to even look at it, and that's what this couple reminded me of. They wouldn't even look at him. And, I am making sure to tell the dry cleaners the boogers are NOT from me!

  25. Good heavens, I was aghast at this story. How awful. You certainly showed admirable patience, and then even more admirable restraint. I think I would have been sorely tempted to have a quiet "word" with that little guy's mother.

    Whewwwww - if they do not get control of him now, he will be too big later, and then what ????

  26. Marsha: I am thoroughly grateful I will NOT have to be that kid's teacher when he starts to school. I really do feel sorry for the teacher who gets him first.


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