"Crying children are like good intentions. Both should be carried out."
I'm not much of a social activist, really. Oh, once in a while I'll get my briefs in a bunch over Albertson's displaying Cosmopolitan's Guide to Publishing a Pornographic Magazine next to Dora the Explorer's Abbreviated Childhood. But by and large, I say "Live and let live, preferably someplace far away from me on accounta I'm not really a people person."
But I'm afraid I am going to have to speak out on a situation which is, frankly, getting out of control. And if I don't address it here and now, you can bet Kristina will, and she'll use pictures of Mario Lopez and Amy Winehouse to illustrate her point. Or maybe the Catorce-Mom, as seen on this week's People (Who Should Have Been Tossed in the River When Their Parents Had the Chance) Magazine.
I became aware of this growing problem several months ago, in church. That's where I notice a lot of problems; I'm pretty sure this is because I'm terribly righteous and the revelation just rains down on me like a cow on a rock. I sit there in Sacrament Meeting, being pious and stuff, and before I know it -- BAM! Something that someone else really needs to fix is made manifest in 3-D and, in this case, Surround Sound.
But today, well, let's just say Isaiah and Ezekiel and Moses were amateurs compared to the total prophetic whatchamacallit stuff that was happening deep in my soul and working its way through my ear canal right to my brain stem.
So now, like Samuel of old except I took a bath this morning, I stand with my staff in one hand and my Ebeneezer in the other because that's not really a naughty reference although I giggle every time I say it -- and I declare...
"People of ... um ... Northwest Las Vegas and most of Utah, near as I can tell! Hark! We must once and for all CEASE the wicked and abominable acts of BEATING YOUR CHILDREN IN CHURCH!"
That's right. I have HAD it with the carnage that is obviously taking place behind me week after week after bloodletting week. It simply must stop.
My family sits on the second row in the chapel. Every Sunday. We're like those Victorian patrons, who purchased a pew in the church so that no one but their descendants could sit in it for all of eternity. Hey, I pay my ten percent. I'll sit where I darn well want to. And so will my descendants.
We do this so that a) our kids won't be distracted by the Flying Wallendas who occupy the fourth row and, b) young parents can take comfort in the knowledge that it is still necessary to knock your 19-year old daughters' heads together like a couple of coconuts because they can't stop arguing about a sweater one of them owned and the other one lost seven months ago.
However, due to our position in the front of the room, we aren't able to actually see what is happening on rows three through the-mess-in-the-cultural-hall.
But if the soundtrack is any indication, it's a free-for-all back there. And the way those kids are screeching, I have to assume the parents are disciplining them with nun chucks and battering rams.
First, there are The Fakers. These are kids who couldn't produce a tear if you shoved an onion under each eyelid and told them Santa was dead. They just 'want' whatever it is someone else has at the moment, and they do this sort of cough / whine combination that is so devoid of imagination and effort the laziness alone is worthy of a D-. Everyone around The Faker is fantasizing about backhanding the kid just to, as the saying goes, give him something to cry about. Everyone, that is, except his parents. They're handling things by repeating, " ," a disciplinary tool which says a lot about the kid's lack of emotional ambition.
Then there are the Air Raid Sirens. These kids start small, but they've got staying power and lungs like the Man from Atlantis. On a single breath, they begin their assault down low on the pitch spectrum, and then initiate a steady, terrifying climb that works from whimper to whine to wail to full-blown keen complete with banshee cape and portents of death and despair.
The parents have no excuse for keeping the kid in the room while he works his way to the end of his performance. It can take up to ten minutes for heaven's sake. Yet these folks seem to think that this time a little "shh, shh" is going to stop the reign of terror. It won't, people. And replacing the chapel windows every week is getting expensive.
Finally, there are the Zero-to-Sixties. One minute, the child is happily shredding the hymnal and reducing a three-pound box of Cheerios to compost, and the next, he's shrieking like crocodiles just leaped up from under the pew and chewed off both his legs. No warning, no indication of the fury that is about to be unleashed, it's like sharing a bench with a bolt of lightning. But rather than scoop the little maniac up and rush him out of the building before he strikes again, the parents engage in a frantic dialogue which, of course, has to be louder than the kid, and is mostly variations on a theme of "What's wrong with him? Is he hurt? Did you take away his Cosmopolitan?"
We Mormons aren't much for "Testify, Brothers" or "A-mens!" But there are plenty of weeks when we are just one tantrum-throwing toddler away from a rousing chorus of "Shut the Hallelujah Up," found on page 327 of whatever hymnals haven't been destroyed by Little Mr. Zero-to-Sixty.
And yet, I know it's unfair to blame the children. Clearly, they would be perfect angels during church if their parents weren't abusing them with all of that nurturing and patience, not to mention the entire story of Noah's Ark in flannel board pieces plastered the full length of the bench in front of them, like maybe Brother and Sister daVinci were sitting there and young Leonardo just couldn't hold still without creating a mural.
'But what to do?' young parents ask. Well, I admit, that's a real stumper. Yes, indeed. What to do, what to do ...
You know, I'll have to get back to you on that one. It's been several hours since church ended, and as my hearing returned to normal the revelation on how you can all be better people and thereby improve my life dried up for the week.
However, later tonight, I'll consult my Ebeneezer. Maybe he'll have a suggestion or two.