I had a discouraging day this week. Two incidents reminded me of the cultural status of kids.
The first happened at church- to my dismay. We serve lunch in our third service, and this week it was pizza. We asked the servers of the food if we could take some pizza to our kids upstairs- we had eight hungry students in our elementary class. (Normally I wouldn't ask. I bring healthy snacks of fruit and vegetables, cheeses, yogurts, and crackers for them, but this was a fun day; everyone loves pizza!)
The servers scowled at my request and curtly informed me that we could have the leftovers- if there were any. Because of my rebellious nature, I sent the kids down with one of my helpers to get into the adult line. It's a good thing too, 'cuz there were no leftovers. This was most disturbing to the food servers who stared and glared and reluctantly handed over the food, but my kids happily munched on pizza without knowing how they had been relegated to the bottom of the societal totem pole. (Note to church: this is the wrong approach to kids.)
The next incident happened when my neighbor walked onto my property to snoop around my barn. We've been fixing the walls and residing it to make an outdoor play space for my three children. (I thought she had noticed that it rains a lot here in the Washington foothills and playing outside is almost impossible for close to six months out the year.) Instead she was obviously upset that we had taken the eyesore from dingy to beautiful, complete with a cement floor, but no heating or plumbing or anything fancy. "I don't want a lot of noisy kids running around," she announced to my dismay as my three year old walked by chattering to our fuzzy cat. I had to be very careful to not get defensive on my children's behalf and simply noted the dark clouds and gloom of the winter as our main incentive for the space.
It has bothered me all week that kids are the lowest priority in our society. I know some of you will argue that this is simply not true- look at the immense spending on public education, health care, and the like, but let's be realistic: kids are not a embraced as important, knowledgeable, and worthwhile to our society as a whole. How many times have you gotten "the glare" in restaurants regarding your kids? When was the last time that you found your children embraced in the grocery store? How many adults in your life choose to be around you because of your kids? For the church, how much of the budget is spent on kids ministry? How many times do the adult population and the kid population intermingle in activities? How is your volunteering going? How many patrons without children work in your program? When are children mentioned from the pulpit?
I think if change is going to happen, it has to start in the church. It's not right for any member of the congregation (regardless of age) to be frowned upon. All servants of the church need to treat all members with respect. I can give my neighbor a pass, she probably has her reasons for her disdain, but I have an issue with the workers at church. There is no excuse there.