Thursday, August 16, 2012

Prayer Help for the Unwelcome Welcome

This is the sign at my local County Courthouse.

A little chilly, no?

The sign is posted in two places in the small hall waiting area, and (as the bailiff told me) "in each and every courtroom."

I read that sign and shrunk down a few inches. I was only in the Courthouse to get a copy of my official property map.

I can't image sitting on a bench, waiting for an Eviction hearing, distracted for a moment about my possible future homelessness--and having a chilly bailiff point to that sign out to me and say

"Humpf! We expect you to exercise control over your child's behavior!"

All because my child was (to use an exact quote from my discussion with my local Clerk of Court yesterday) "climbing up the stairs."

That sign has bothered me for a month. Yesterday, on my Mommy's feast day, I went to the County Courthouse. I parked my four children ages 9 to 2 on a wooden bench under that sign. With my youngest girl in her Bijorn on my chest, I asked the bailiff to please take down the sign. He said no.

I often him a replacement sign that I handmade with kinder language (Unattended Children will be given a puppy and a cup of coffee). The bailiff said "My boss wants it that way."

So I went to talk to his boss--the Clerk of Court.

He said "NO!"

I said "Well, where do I take this matter from here?"

He said "No where!" Then he gave me a look that said "Who do you think you are???????"

I must have looked like a sight. A girl with wet curly hair in a banana clip, a blue cotton dress, and  my husband's oversized black flip-flops with a red faced baby strapped to my chest...but....

I know who I am!

A Beloved Daughter of Mary.
A Catholic mother of five who is sticking up for the Baby Jesus.

My local Clerk of Court may choose to post a sign in the waiting area that says "QUIET, Court is in Session". He does not have the right to single out children. He does not have the right to be rude to mothers and fathers.

So I pulled myself up straight, gave him a quick nod of the head and said "You will be receiving a letter from me about this matter soon, Sir."

Then I walked out out of his office with my cheeks blushing.

Now, I am coming to you, gentle readers. Please pray! My Clerk of Court has a last name that starts with "S" and his bailiff first name starts with "L". Ask the Lord to remove the rude sign and soften their hearts towards all children in general.


  1. Will add your intention to my prayers. I wonder if the Clerk is himself childless? I know it took having my own for me to realize that "exercising control of their behavior" can be a near impossibility at times, even though you're doing your best.

  2. Oh, dear! I wonder if they realize that it's absolutely impossible to "exercise control" over anyone else's behavior but your own.

    Your sign sounds way nicer and gets the main point across. I mean at the very least they could ask you to remove your child if they are having trouble with self control.

    But's like people think they never were climbing, loud, dirty children themselves.

    But I look at it this way, those of us who want gaggles of children will at least raise them to remember what children really are like when they are grown adults. The rest of the world on their self-righteous pedestals will never have to bother themselves since they won't be having offspring.

    I hope that didn't come out snarky. I meant it more matter-of-fact.

  3. YOu know I do feel your pain, however, most people today do not even attempt to control their children's behavior. I know most of the time it's a losing battle, but today's parents think there children should wander wherever they want, and run, and jump, and scream.

    Please forgive me, but I applaud the sign. ;-(

  4. Hello Claire—I noticed you used the the "However"

    The point is: the sign only succeeds in promoting hatred and breeding anxiety. I doubt it suddenly jars a parent into a clear moment, and they say to themselves, "Yes, I will begin to control my children—thank you angry sign"

    Also—I refuse to believe in this mythical "yesterday" when most parents were like the Cleavers. If you don't have a time machine, let us leave this Golden age a parenting were it came from—the imagination.

  5. I am absolutely in favor of teaching children proper behavior, and of having "child free" spaces for quiet adult time. Public spaces where you are ordered by the authority of the government to hang out for hours are NOT quiet adult places where children should be made to feel unwelcome, or where undue burden should be placed on parents to ensure their children are "behaving" when they are in a boring government building!

    A much better solution is for the courthouse to have a playroom or an area with toys and books for the children to occupy themselves, such as doctors offices do. That sign says: If your children are bothering me its your fault for being a lousy parent. Never mind that someone in that courthouse is likely preoccupied and overwhelmed by whatever has brought them there in the first place and will find it that much harder to "control" their children's behavior. The lack of compassion and understanding is definitely a problem.

    Props to you for sticking up for the Baby Jesus!

  6. Claire, I want to challenge you even more than my husband.

    This sign is in A COURTHOUSE

    not a laundry mat,

    not a gym,

    not a food food establishment

    When parents bring 2 year olds to a Courthouse, it usually means that either they or someone they love is in big trouble

    Domestic Violence Hearings

    That sign is mean spirited and it kicks mothers of small children when they are down.


    I'm not angry at the County Clerk, I think he's being mean to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I don't have control over his behavior. I will speak out in charity to admonish a serious sin.

  7. I'm sorry if my comments upset you. I truly didn't mean to stir the pot and make it boil...really.

    Cleavers....hardly. No generation had the corner on perfection. People are people and children are children.

    i opened my mouth and inserted my size 10. Please forgive me and accept my apology.

    Look, I don't walk in your shoes, and I wasn't with you that day. The sign probably would not have upset me, but I'm sure I've come across a few that would make my hair stand on end, and you would wonder what all the fuss is.

    That's all. I was clumsy in my response. And I'm probably doing a terrible job of trying to smooth it over and remove my foot from my mouth.

    God Bless!

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