Have you ever judged those parents who come to church armed with a bag of Tamu Tamu, crisps, lollypops and yoghurt yet it’s a two-hour service?
Then all their kids do in the service is munch and scatter and touch neighbours with sticky hands?
I’m slowly being turned to such. Because that junk is the only arsenal that can keep you quiet with a toddler in church, hopefully.
My baby seems to hate church, I think. The moment we walk in, he starts squirming and whining and if I don’t walk out or pull out ‘nyonyo,’ that squirming will soon turn onto full-grown screams that can make a service stop.
As a result, I don’t quite enjoy church. I hardly ever hear what the preacher is saying and it’s hard to clap, dance or lift up hands with a 10kg human who wants out.
Every little cry feels magnified like on a loudspeaker and you can almost feel the usher or even pastor at the pulpit drilling holes into you for daring interrupt the service.
Have you ever been in a church service and afterwards you are asking what the sermon was about or what the announcements said? Well, that’s me currently.
On New Year’s eve, he was walking on other children in the creche, waking up those who were sleeping by poking their eyes, and tapping people’s shoulders continuously for smiles.
I tried wrestling with him for a while then gave up and left.
The only advantage is that I have been here twice before and no matter how dry and frustrating church gets, I now know the phase doesn’t last forever.
The first time with my firstborn, I sat at the stairs in the middle of worship and cried from frustration.
He couldn’t sit still in the service or keep quiet and on the days I took him to toddlers church he screams blood tye entire service.
He would see the door to the room and start wailing. I started wondering if even there was any point taking a toddler to church.
Doing church with children is an exhausting never-ending wrestling and crying match.
You leave church more tired than when you came in, as you stare enviously at the neighbour whose child has been asleep on their lap all morning, or the ones waving goodbye at Sunday school with no fuss.
But why do I take kids to church despite them ‘hating’ it? Because I want them to learn of the community of believers they are privileged to be part of. I want them to see us doing church and know it’s a worthy thing to do.
That their flame of faith will be fanned by the fellowship. I want to expose them to friends who share the same values and belief system.
I want them to know that other people out there love Jesus. I want them to know that other people are interested in and invested in them knowing Jesus.
And I want them to know that Jesus loves when we gather together in his name.
May they in the church find a loving community and family that cares about them, that will stand with them, and that is aspiring towards the same thing as them – a loving growing relationship with God and an eternity with him.