This sounds like a command learned from Cesar Milan, but no, Buddy is not a dog, he ‘s our 2.5 years old son. Though some parents may actually use it on their kids. The reason I said this is because, like a dog, it’s just as difficult to get a young child to sit still.
Though every child is different, one thing they have in common, at least for very young children is their curiosity. When Buddy started walking, he wanted to explore the surrounding and refused to sit quietly. When we took him to church, he always pointed to outside and whined for us to take him out instead of being cooped up for the entire mass service. My husband and I had to take turns to take him on a tour of the place. And there were many tours because we had to do it every Sundays for several months. My husband claimed he had cover all the nooks and crannies of the church with Buddy.
As Buddy got slightly older, we thought it might be easier to keep him occupied. So I brought along a bag of toys, books, and of course the ubiquitous ipad to church for him. It took time, but eventually he was able to stay with us for 3/4 of the duration, and the ipad is a must-have. But it seems like certain parents (or mothers) frown upon such behavior.
A couple of months ago, as usual, Buddy was watching the ipad quietly (volume off).There was a family with two toddler kids and a baby sitting in front of us. The two older kids were a couple of years older than Buddy, but still at the fidgety age. They were curious about what Buddy was watching and peered over the bench. But their mother was not pleased, and kept telling them to face forward. During peace offering, she looked like she was doing it out of obligation(in a grudging manner) when she looked at me. I don’t know whether it was because she wasn’t happy that her kids were distracted by the iPad or she disapproves of using iPad to distract the child. I would think that she should understand it is very difficult for a young child not to fidget, especially for active kids like Buddy, and that they really don’t understand what the mass was about, and no interest to focus on the ritual or songs. If it is the iPad, then she doesn’t realize that watching the right educational apps in a moderate amount of time does help the child learn. In fact Buddy learned alphabets, shapes, phonics and developed a love for puzzles from the ipad apps.
Anyway, a few months ago we switched churches because Buddy has gym classes on Sunday, and so we are going to one which is nearer to the center. There is a creche at this church but only for parents with infants. Still, even when Buddy was a baby, we hardly used it. For reasons unknown, the aircon inside the creche was broken since the church opened a few years back. My husband hated staying in there because not only was it cramped and noisy, but also stuffy. We found out that the aircon was finally fixed a month ago, but we are not qualified to use it now. So we have to use the same modus operandi to keep Buddy from wanting to go outside to play at the fake gardens. (Once he is out, it’s difficult to return into the church, and when he wails, we end up outside anyway.) The ipad also keeps Buddy from jumping up and down the kneeling bench, probably a warm up to the gym class. Though there is the children’s liturgy but it is only for kids at 5-12 years old. So for the toddlers, unfortunately their parents have to try to keep them quiet, which is really not an easy task.
Last Sunday, during mass, Buddy asked for the iPad, and I gave it to him with relief. I turned off the volume, and placed it on the bench ledge in front of us, with Buddy sitting on the kneeling bench. There was a woman and her son, sitting in front of us, who shifted their positions and pushed against the iPad a few times, causing it to fall flat on its attached casing each time. I guess when Buddy pull the ipad upright, he might have pressed on the volume button. So there was a teeny sound coming from it. Again, during the peace offering, the woman in front turned around and told me I should teach Buddy to respect the Eucharist and that the iPad sound was distracting and disrespectful. I apologized to her. Yes, I should have immediately checked the volume control and disabled it, but pray tell how do you explain the Eucharist to a 2.5 years old kid and expect him to respect the ceremony? The lady is lucky to have a quiet son who can sit still. (He looks like 11 or 12 years old, so I guess it’s easier for him to focus.)
To be honest, as long as a child is not disrupting the service or causing a nuisance for more than 5 minutes, we should learn to live and let live. I guess there are some who have a holier-than-thou attitude.
I also have to say that for an institution which is supposedly to be pro-family, the church has not provided adequate facilities for families with young children. There is no baby changing table installed; many times we had to change Buddy on the bench outside the church. Maybe babies and toddlers don’t poop in church except for Buddy. There are facilities to accommodate the elderly and disabled though. Maybe the church clergy and laity think that as long as the parents are abled, they should be able to handle on their own. Unfortunately the clergy has no idea about caring for young kids, and the laity is either too old to remember or too absorbed in other matters.