Well, today during mass I had a couple of thoughts. I do pay attention as much as possible, but Cecilia refuses to sleep in the car and in order to keep her calm and quiet during Church I often end up standing while swaying or walking, which can put her to sleep as quickly as the Psalm.
My first came about because of a woman directly in front of me. She had a four month old son in a carrier. When she came in, which to her credit was on time, she set him in his carrier down on the pew. Although the little boy was awake, he did not utter one sound. But despite this, she stuck a pacifier in his mouth and focused on the mass. I was warm just looking at him. I admit it was cold out today, much too cold for April, but he had on a winter hat, a onsie that was long sleeved and covered him down to his toes and on top of that a heavy woven sweater. He was nestled on a fleece blanket with another fleece blanket covering him up to his chest. The church was not warm, but it wasn't cold. Cecilia had on a long onsie and booties and fell asleep in my arms twice. A few times this little boy spit out the pacifier and every time his mom would just grab it and push it back in even though the boy never made a sound. He eventually fell asleep only for her to wake him up to carry him up to communion. She could have carried him in the carrier and let him sleep.
Personally I found her treatment of her son rather sad. A baby has two needs to suck: for nourishment and to calm him/herself. Now I'm not saying this woman should necessarily allow her son to use her as a human pacifier through the Mass, but there is no need to stuff a pacifier in his mouth if he doesn't need to be pacified. Pacifiers are not artificial babysitters to be used not only to pacify baby but to moniter even possible crying. It makes me wonder to what extent people might, perhaps without even completely realizing it, abuse pacifiers just to try to make their days easier. Imagine if every time something bothered you your parent or spouse or boss just simply pushed a pacifier in your mouth, or handed you a toy or did some equivalent mindless tribute to keep you from voicing your concern or even just seeking a bit of human interaction. I admit sometimes I joke Cecilia is like my detachable tumor because sometimes she just seems glued to me and occassionally I need a few minutes detached, but holding her through mass is not hard...it isn't like my arms or hands would be doing much differently. As I told my brother, I do not have weekdays and weekend days. I have Cecilia days. My day revolves around my daughter. If she wants my attention during dinner, I've sat on the floor and eaten while playing with her. If she cries while I'm typing a post, I leave it and come back to it later. I feel bad for the little boy who might (I hope not) be being fairly ignored regularly because it is simply easier to stick a pacifier in his mouth. Pacifiers aren't evil (we are trying to get Cecilia to use one during car rides to calm her when I can't), but they seem to be easily abused.
My second thought was about a little girl, 1-2 years of age, who was excited to be able to walk around the back of the Church and draw on bulletins, play with a stuffed animal blanket, etc. I've seen parents bring sippy cups with punch or juice, Cheerios with Cheerio play books, action figures and, my personal favorite, an electronic Leap Frog gaming system for their children to play with all in the name of keeping them quiet and entertained through Mass. Once again I find this to be the easy way out, and not without its consequences. In order to keep Cecilia happy and calm and quiet without toys, I may have to rock and sway until my back and hips and legs hurt and I hold her until my arms are sore (but they are getting better at it). It isn't always easy, but as I was watching this little girl just play her way through the Mass, I couldn't help but wonder if parents bringing toys and such to, once again, pacify their children through the mass with as little effort as possible, would incline the child to associate Church with play time. If I cam to Church every week with toys and spent the whole time playing, I certainly would. I will find out more definately as Cecilia gets older, but I think if parents taught their children how to be calm and quiet during Mass without toys (be it by being held and walked while younger or praying while older), children in general would be much better behaved at Mass. I can't help but wonder if parents make their own beds with children that behave poorly at Church by teaching them to associate Church with playtime.
Well, that is all my ramblings for today. I'm hoping to finish Part I in Gone with the Wind today (not that that is saying much since it is the shortest part). Cecilia has a Doctor's appointment tomorrow so we will probably update her website after that.
P.S. -My apologies for any typos - my computer was acting up.