February 4, 2015

Wails from the Cry Room: A Design for the Future [ACNM]

What's the least desirable place inside any church to attend Mass? The cry room, of course. Spending time inside a cry room is a little bit like visiting a mini war zone or taking a trip back to the wild, wild west.

You step into a crowded cry room and immediately feel, and sometimes smell, the angst in the air. Kids are flailing and screaming. Cheerios and other snacks are being dropped and stepped on. Toys are flying through the air. Children are putting each other in headlocks. Noses are running aplenty. Dirty diapers and other sticky things are all over the floor like like popcorn and candy in a move theater. And sippy cups and bottles are spilling left and right. (Don't let the spill-proof label fool you.)

Some parishes give their cry rooms happy names or even name the rooms after saints. (That's a stretch.) At least that is classier than calling it something more realistic such as the Cain and Abel Room.

At this point you may suspect I'm a cranky get-off-my-lawn curmudgeon with no children. Not at all. I have two little girls, and my wife and I love bringing them to Mass every Sunday. Read on and perhaps you will have a few laughs.

I would like to propose to you the cry room of tomorrow -- a place where future generations of Catholics (and the design can be adapted for other faiths) can avoid the present-day pitfalls of the place you go during Mass when your kids go crazy. It's called the Cry Room 3000, or the CR 3000 for short.

The standard design of the CR 3000 will include the following features:

Double Airlock Doors

Perhaps you've seen these in banks. In order to access the CR 3000, you have to pass through two sets of doors. Whenever crying children are huddled together in one place, at least a couple of kids are bound to make a run for it. The double doors will help prevent escapes by safely confining your little fugitives long enough for you to take them back into custody.

Climate Control

The temperature in many cry rooms I've visited seems to be uncomfortably warmer than the rest of the church, regardless of whether it's summer or winter. Maybe it's just the stress that increases everyone's body temperature and makes the room unpleasantly warm. It's essential that the CR 3000 will have a separate climate control system that will automatically maintain a temperature five degrees lower than the rest of the building.

Vacuum Robot

"Thou shalt not bring food or drinks into the church." In cry rooms that may be the rule people ignore the most. Every parent of small children knows that you need to have an emergency supply of snacks on hand at all times. This results in those snacks being dropped, spit out and crushed all over the cry room. The simple solution for the CR 3000 is to have a Roomba robot vacuum automatically deploy 15-minutes after Mass to clean the floor. The system also will be able to detect when there is a severe amount of crumbs and spills and send the robot out during Mass in emergency situations.

I know what you're thinking. Some babies and toddlers are afraid of vacuums. Just paint it like a puppy or kitten and the kids will love it.

Stain Proof Everything

Whatever it is that gets spilled in cry rooms is sure to stain any surface. So the furniture, floors, walls, windows, doors and ceiling will incorporate the same technology used in stain-repellant clothing. Whatever the children try to smear, smudge and spill all over the place will simply roll off the surface and get sucked up by the vacuum robot later.

Odor Control

Near the ceiling of the CR 3000 will be an automatic air freshener dispenser that will release one squirt every ten minutes. The device also will be able to detect unusual spikes of odor in the air (during severe diaper blowouts, etc.) and activate sooner as needed.

[To read the rest of this story -- and trust me, you don't want to miss it -- click over to Austin Catholic New Media.]


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