Friday, March 14, 2008

Parenting and Inclusive/Exclusive Communities

I had my girls with me today for the leadership of a worship service at a retreat and then for a hot date to California Pizza Kitchen in Walnut Creek.

While trying to lead a meaningful worship celebration my 2 girls climbed around the room on furniture, fighting over 1 of 12 pens on a table, crying over poked eyes, and writhing around on the floor singing songs while I stood trying to lead a community of folks in singing a different song. Stressed that they were bothering others, I tried to sneak directive comments to them in between the verses of the song I was leading on my guitar. It all failed. They sang, climbed, cried, and colored despite and with my best intentions. As we left someone said to me, "What? You're taking all the enthusiasm with you? What are we going to do?" What I feared as judgment, irritation or frustration was actually a community experience of acceptance, inclusion and grace. These folks not only welcomed but loved and appreciated my children for who they are.

We then headed off to our hot date at CPK. When seated after a short wait, I realized that we'd been exiled to the nether-regions of the kids only room. Tragically a young couple was seated near to us, and we were placed alongside 2 women who conveniently failed to hide their eye-rolls as we sat down. Within 10 minutes one daughter was sining, another was clicking her tongue incessantly, and one of the glasses of milk was upside down with its contents all over the carpet below our table. The 2 women made an audible noise of what I assume was irritation. The young couple tried to hide their laughter out of pity for me. The scene continued with chuckles and noises of irritation and consternation.

We left and I found myself wondering why I always insist on taking 2 kids under 6 out to dinner by myself? You'd think I'd learn, or at least be less clueless by now. I also reflected on the way back to Oakland on the 2 experiences of inclusion and exclusion. Thank god that hot date night at CPK isn't too often.

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