Sunday, 1 April 2012

Please help me become a better Christian by NOT suffering the little blighters

Our church cuts kids even more slack than usual on the first Sunday of every month by holding what they call a Family Eucharist, and I generally try to avoid attending on those days. But today is Palm Sunday, one of my favourite services, so I gambled. And lost.

About an hour in, I was just about ready to kill someone. And that’s not really how I want to feel when I go to church. The cause of my positively satanic urges was the choir of rug-rats bellowing, shouting, crying, running up and down the aisle (ever noticed what a great sound tiny sandals make slapping against a tiled floor? – just ask me: I’m now an expert), dropping pencils and books and toys.

Just how is anyone supposed to concentrate on Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, the Last Supper, the betrayal by Judas, His arrest by the authorities and the Crucifixion when up to a dozen babies and toddlers are simultaneously making a racket?

If the parents are genuinely incapable of quietening the little dears, why don’t they bugger off outside with them so that the rest of us can try to experience the slightest hint of awe while contemplating the mysteries of our religion? Believe me, no-one would object!

When Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God”, I presume He was referring to sentient beings who, on some level, had some chance of understanding his words – not toddlers who can only cry, bellow and drop things. I mean – what is the point?

Our church is very child friendly, and that’s great: it meant adults don’t have to miss services because of child care problems. Although I’ve never had to experience it myself, I’m frightfully sympathetic towards parents when some mucnhkin throws a tantrum – it happens: but my sympathy evaporates when they make absolutely no attempt to ameliorate the effects of the little bleeder’s atrocious behaviour on the rest of us. My wife and I were very lucky – our son never threw tantrums and he was incredibly well-behaved in church right from the get-go. But if he’d started annoying the other worshippers, I’d probably have drop-kicked him through our magnificent west window and happily paid for the damage. 

Admittedly, I’m a noise obsessive. I can’t bear builders playing transistor radios in neighbouring gardens; the bass thump of dance music drives me to distraction; I despise the cultureless dolts who conduct phone conversations in libraries and bookshops; I can’t watch TV if I can hear our neighbour’s set; dog-owners who let their pets bark ad nauseam in their gardens (presumably because it makes it nice and quiet inside the house) deserve a lengthy spell in Guantanamo; and as for earphone leakage from MP3 players on public transport – well, those responsible deserve to be tied to the tube tracks. There are an awful lot of selfish, solipsistic idiots in the world – I just don’t expect to find them in the congregation at our local church.

It really is all about context. Ever since our son was born, I’ve been fairly relaxed about the noise of little kids enjoying themselve: they can play in neighbouring gardens to their heart’s content, as far as I’m concerned – in fact, their joyous quacking can be quite heartening. But in church?

The proper choir at the front of the church was in superb form this morning. Their rendition of the 31st Psalm was achingly beautiful – even the ankle-biters managed to shut up for that one.


  1. El Al has always employed air marshalls who travel incognito. Very good success rate.

    Churches and restaurants should be able to employ Peter Lorre or Robert Mitchum types in a similar role to patrol and dispense justice to these small reptilian beings. One of my favourite scenes in cinema is when the monster comes across the little girl playing by the well in "Young Frankenstein". Very satisfying.

  2. In case anyone out there should have gained the impression that SDG is a psychopath, I should point out that the little girl in "Young Frankenstein" is neither harmed by nor even scared of the monster, but ends up being flung back onto her bed through her bedroom window when the monster sits down opposite her on a see-saw.

    Glad to clear that up.

    Oddly, in the original Frankenstein, it was made clear that the monster, thinking the girl was as pretty as the flowers floating on the lake beside which he discovers her playting, throws her into the water. The censor objected to the scene where she is thrown in - leaving cinema-goers to assume that the monster had sexually assaulted her, rather than killed her by accident. Thankfully, the whole scene was subsequently restored.