Our family’s room
Where kids could be kids, even at church
By Theresa Blume
This Easter my husband and I were able to get ready for church without having to wait for kids to look for their baskets as in years past. Being grandparents we took our time getting dressed and still arrived at the church early. We met our son and daughter-in-law, who brought our little granddaughter, and we looked forward to a great service.
However, granddaughter had other plans. At 17 months old, she was picture perfect with a new Easter dress and shoes. She was excited to see everyone and decided she was going to explore. At this age she does not care how she is supposed to act, and this is complicated by her ability to squeeze out of any hold when she wants to go somewhere.
Watching her squirm and crawl under the pews brought back memories of being in church with my five siblings. I began to understand why we spent most of our early church services in a little room all by ourselves. There was the designated place in the back called the “cry room,” where people could take their crying babies and still hear the sermon.
That room was often filled to the brim with families who found it easier to just start out there and stay there the whole service. My family automatically went into a little room in the back corner of the church, which also had a glass to see through, but this room was meant for baptizing babies. There was a large marble pillar in the center of the room where the priest would baptize infants, and as far as I know that is the only reason for that room.
Many churches of different religions baptize babies near the altar in public ceremonies, but the baptismal room in my Catholic childhood church was for private ceremonies. Only small family gatherings had room to stand around the pillar. The only time anyone else sat there besides us was during heavy attendance days like Easter and Christmas.
I am not sure how we ended up using that baptismal room for our own family sitting area, but it made sense for my parents who had to deal with six small kids at church. Having a room to ourselves gave the smaller children freedom to move while the older ones could assist my parents when needed.
After we got old enough to behave, we moved into a pew near the front, and I believe we were one of the best behaved families attending. Often as we sat there, proudly sitting up straight, we would see a small child scrambling under the pews or wiggling to be let down, and we felt pretty good about ourselves. I guess grandchildren have a way of bringing us back to our own childhoods, reminding us that we were all young once.