a lapse in hospitality

ikea stoolMy daughter was kind enough to point out that our church bathrooms did not have stools to help children to reach the sink. Her method of communication offered her usual subtlety: wondering what was taking her so long, I opened the bathroom door to find that she had rappelled up to the counter and was sitting beside the sink.

I’m embarrassed to say that after four years at St. Andrew’s, and banging the drum about being welcoming to small children, I myself hadn’t noticed that our bathrooms either lacked stools or had stools that are only slightly taller than a doorstop. Nothing says “we welcome you and your children” like forcing a parent to lift a 5-year-old to wash their hands while their 2-year old makes a run for it.

And speaking as that parent…I had to change my son on one of our way-under-resourced changing tables last week when he delivered the goods at – you’re not going to believe this – an inopportune moment. Again, it was a moment of embarrassment when I realized that I’m the one who’s supposed to be making sure that we tend to these important details of welcome.

How could I go four years and not see this? Even as a parent of two members of the target demographic?  Of course, I could make do at the changing station because I was well-equipped with the Eddie-Bauer Man-Up-And-Change-‘Em diaper bag. Not everyone travels with that kind of gear. In fact, lots of folks who we host at St. Andrew’s – including a YWCA group called Teen Parent Mentor Program– would probably appreciate a nicely decked-out changing table.

Humbled by my oversight of a population that couldn’t speak up for itself, I grabbed the credit card and went on a spending spree. (Buying diapers becomes fun when you call it a “spree.”) With apologies to all those who have struggled with an unnecessarily-spartan changing table that in no way represents the abundance of the Kingdom (where diapers have zero environmental impact and change themselves), we are now open for business if your kiddo, in the middle of church, feels the spirit move.



About bernardowens

I'm an Episcopal priest in Greensboro, North Carolina.
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