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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

How to Deal With a Crying Baby

Donald Trump has caused yet more controversy by telling a woman with a crying baby to get out of his rally.

But of course crying babies are just a thing in life. People have babies - apparently even Trump supporters find each other attractive enough to make them. But churches frequently have babies in the congregations - and not just for baptisms. So what tactics should we employ?

Saying "can you please remove that child? There's people trying to pray here". If Jesus said to bring the children to him, and then you order them out, whom are you most resembling? You could argue "a group of people we now call saints." Or you could think of a bloke with an orange face who insulted the parents of a dead soldier last week. Your choice....

Having a Baby Park. Have a space with some toys, and even a cupboard with emergency wipes and nappies and a changing mat. Make sure it's out of earshot, obviously. And make it clear that parents must supervise their babies at all times. But obviously only insist that babies are there if they are crying loudly. Or might....

But resist the temptation to clear a space for children at the back of the church, next to what Anglicans would call the "North Wall" . Nobody puts baby in the corner.

Tutting is sometimes quite effective. Can really put a young parent on edge. And you know how that calms babies down.

Likewise Staring can really look like prayerful concern. If you're really hungover or shortsighted.

Picking the Baby up when leading is a real high-risk strategy. If the baby calms down and starts gurgling happily people will think you're Francis of Assissi. If the baby panics at being picked up by a strange person when they were already upset - well, holding a purple, howling infant throwing their toy duckie in your face while milk-sick pours down your liturgical hi vis is never a good look. Still, out of the mouths of babes and ducklings....

A creche* is something that happens when people from Holy Trinity Brompton aren't driving their 4x4s carefully on the way to church. Probably started singing in tongues, lifted up their hands in praise and - bang - into then back of that Porsche Cayenne.

My preferred technique is to just carry on with the show. Maybe introduce a song in the hope that you remove embarrassment and give the baby / parent (s) chance to relax. If preaching, speak up, keep it snappy. Let them go out for a break if they want. And make sure you coincidentally get to them during the Scrum of Peace / coffee time and just be nice. Happy for any of my lovely readers to come up with better suggestions, of course.

Or, obviously, you could just utterly embarrass them and look like a complete horse's bottom. How you treat crying babies tells us a lot about what you think of other people whom you think are less important than you.

* yes it's an old joke. But worth it in the context I thought.

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