The other day I went to my eye doctor’s office for the dreaded annual eye exam. It seems like every year I go and the conversation goes like this:
Doctor: Can you see the big E on the chart?
Me: What chart?
Doctor: The one on the wall over there.
Me: What wall?
Yep. Totally blind. It’s no surprise. Same every year. I got my bad eyes (and that lame joke) from my dad.
This year I came in with three children, one of them being fifteen month old Emerald. As soon as I checked in and we went to the waiting area, I noticed they had made some changes in the office since I had been there last. The waiting area seemed to be filled with threatening signs about children. They said things like If your children are disruptive and loud, you may be asked to leave. And Please keep your children quiet.
Well, I don’t know if you’ve been around a fifteen month old lately. They are sweet. They are precious. They are funny. They are unpredictable. And they are loud. They’re loud when they’re happy, they’re loud when they’re sad, they’re loud when they’re excited, and boy are they loud when they’re mad!
I found myself being unreasonable with my generally quiet kids trying to conform to whatever unreasonable standards that this office had set up for us to operate under. They were just playing. Laughing. Being happy, pleasant kids.
The more I sat there and thought about those signs the more I had to wonder why. Why in the world take frazzled mothers who bring their children to the office and stress them out by expecting children not to make noise? Why make parents feel that their children aren’t welcome in your office? And, most of all, why discourage mothers?
Because those signs were discouraging. They made me nervous and overly critical of my children. They made me feel unwelcome and worn out. All while just sitting in the waiting room. I still had to get through the whole exam with Emerald toddling around, trying to touch equipment, and (loudly) letting everyone know how she felt about everything.
Honestly, the signs made me not want to go back there ever again.
I get it. Some people are annoyed by children. Some people are even annoyed by MY children (gasp!!). But, I see no reason for people to go out of their way in an office where CHILDREN ARE PATIENTS to make mothers nervous and make children seem like a nuisance.
The truth is that if someone can’t see reason to laugh while children are around, if they can’t see the joy and beauty in kids, even the loud and unruly ones, then they are as blind as I am without my glasses. I doubt that it would hurt anyone in that office in the least to “endure” an hour of being in the presence of even the most hard to handle child.
It’s a good lesson for those of us in the church. If we want to minister to parents, we have to love their children. We have to embrace them with our whole hearts and take them in as our own, even when they are hyper and ask too many questions. Even if they have emotional issues or are too shy to respond when we speak to them. A funny thing happens when you love a mother by loving her children. Oh yeah, you LOVE CHILDREN. It’s a beautiful thing.
So, let’s not get so wrapped up in who is being too loud or who needs to be taken in hand or how children are “supposed” to behave. God didn’t decide to love us based on how well we could sit in a doctor’s office or in a church pew. Should we be stingy with our love just because children are squirmy? I vote no.
Interestingly enough, Adelade needs an eye exam before school starts this year. As good as my doctor is, I think I’ll find someplace that’s a little more gracious and loving toward my kids. Because, when you love my kids, you win me over every time.