Monday, April 9, 2012

Digital Parenthood

During my years in the church, I've seen many an unruly child disrupt a meeting.  Crying babies, tantrum-throwing toddlers, overly exuberant happy kids -- they have a way of distracting teachers and learners and turning long meetings into never-ending tedium.  One of my least favorite moments in church is the few seconds that follow some toddlerian eruption, when I wonder, Will the parents be responsible adults and take the kid out?  Or will they torture the rest of us by staying and either failing to correct the bad behavior or ignoring it altogether?

Of course, being a childless bachelor it's pretty easy for me to feel that a parent's failure to remove a noisy child from a church meeting qualifies as socially irresponsible behavior.  I normally rank it just above eating Doritoes in public.  Every once in a while, however, I pause and wonder if I'm too harsh in my judgment -- Would I do any better than those beleaguered parents in getting my kid to stay quiet?  And if I didn't, would I have the decency to take the kid out? 

Thanks to our friends at Apple, I don't have to get married and have a child to discover that the answer to those questions are No and Yes.

I recently became the proud father owner of a new iPhone, you see, and so I've been exploring life in Appledom.  I call people and text them and make the map app give me directions to places.  I set alarms and (because I'm not in Athens) they wake me up on time.  I download scripture apps so that I can leave my books at home and spend church staring at my glowing screen with a degree of interest that makes every non-iPhone user wonder whether I'm actually following along or just reading movie reviews.

It was wonderful.  That is, until last week in church, when suddenly my phone started talking in class.  Right out loud, without being called on, it just started reciting verses from the Bible:  "VERILY, VERILY, I SAY UNTO YOU..."  What's happening? Is this a visitation?  "...WHO COME UNTO ME..."  Why is everyone looking at me?  This is not my fault!  "...FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST..."  Oh please, just pretend this is the still small voice -- I mean, at least it's giving you the Sermon on the Mount, right?  "...AND BLESSED ARE ALL..."  Why won't it shut up?  How can frantically pushing every button on the screen forty-seven times not be the right answer?  "...PERSECUTED FOR MY NAME'S SAKE..."  What if I just sit on it?  "...UNDER A BUSHEL? NAY, BUT..."  Alright kiddo, that's it, I'm taking you out into the foyer...

...where I found myself surrounded by other parents dealing with their rowdy, crying and otherwise noisy children. 

I'm not gonna lie -- it was a tad awkward at first.  "...I AM NOT COME TO DESTROY..."  But there was no sense in losing my temper or ignoring the situation, so we went into the corner and had a little time out to think about reverence and minding.  "...AND FIRST BE RECONCILED TO..."  That's when I discovered that if you push the "pause" button the talking stops.  (A miracle!)  Just to be sure, though, I also cranked the volume down to zero and turned the power off altogether.  Ahh.  Silence. 

It was a proud moment, walking out of the foyer and back into class.  In those few challenging minutes, I had become a better person:   Not only could I now empathize with those poor incompetent parents who couldn't figure out how to get their kids to be quiet, but I had also proven that, yes, I was the sort of parent who would take a talking kid out of a meeting.  What's more, I had become the envy of all the foyer parents by having a kid with an actual "off" switch.

Oh, parenting.  Who'd have thought there was an app for that?


Annie said...

AH! The EXACT same thing happened to me in Sunday School a few weeks ago! Luckily I found the pause button before it became necessary to go to the foyer. And this was with my phone on mute AND the volume all the way down.

Ashley said...

Hahaha! Definitely envious of that "pause" button and "off" switch!

On a side note, I have stayed in a room with a screaming, tantrum-throwing two year old before and here's why: She behaves certain ways in church that she doesn't normally in other settings (she can't stand the fact that there are so many people in the room and none of them are playing with her!). If I take her out, then the setting has changed and, although it's never a pleasant experience in the hall, it's not the same as teaching her how to behave in those specific surroundings. It's a difficult choice sometimes, to leave or to stay. Most of the time I take her out, but there are some days that I'm bound and determined to win the arm wrestle! The days that I don't take her out I get a myriad of dirty looks, but I feel like more progress has been made.

You win some, you lose some. But your story is much more amusing than any I've had! :)

Anonymous said...

That is hilarious!! I, too, was a parent to take out disruptive chidlers. However, I do agree with Ashley. There are times that the lesson is better taught, and the desired end result achieved quicker, by standing your parental ground. The little darlin' learns to manipulate really well otherwise. And then there were power struggle days when I was just as determined to win as the kiddo was... You pick your battles. ...the times I would have killed for a pause or off button! Lady

Anonymous said...

Sometimes those kidlets are throwing the fit because they WANT to be taken out in the foyer to get a drink and see their buddy who they know is out there running the halls.

Heather Allen said...

LOL! I love this (for obvious reasons, being the mother of three kids)! I am also a huge advocate of removing your noisy (not just fussy; happy noises are just as disruptive) child. Props to you for leaving!

Anonymous said...

Middle-aged Mormon Man: Thoughts on Reverence