I have to get up and get ready for Wednesday morning service in just a few minutes; so this will be a short post.
Our church only provides childcare for Sunday morning services. So for every other service, Chloe and I go to the "Mommy-baby room" where we sit on the floor, eat snacks, chat it up with the other Samonims, and listen to the service (in Korean, of course). I actually really enjoy going into this large room full of other moms and children. Even though only a couple of them speak enough English to actually chat with me, there is a family atmosphere in there that I've never known among strangers.
Koreans really stick with the "it takes a village" concept when it comes to raising their children. I have, on more than one occasion, watched a Korean mom leave her child standing in the middle of a store or sidewalk while she goes to look at something not-so-nearby. The first few times this happened, I wasn't really sure what to do. Should I pick the child up and chase after the mom? Should I stand and wait for the mom to come back? After some time now, I have come to realize that they just think differently about their children in regard to strangers. They seem to think, "If something happens to my child, someone will look after him or her until I get back."
And on the flip-side, everyone here seems to keep a special eye out for little ones, whether they know them or not. It's very common for a total stranger to touch a child's head, pinch a child's cheeks, give a child candy, or even pick a child up.
While I don't think I'll EVER get used to total strangers trying to hold my little girl, I really LOVE this mentality in the church setting. In the mommy-baby room, everyone (moms and children) are greeted warmly. Often, someone picks Chloe up and removes her shoes and coat while I am in the process of removing my own. We all bring snacks that are then shared with every child in the room who wants some. When one mom's snacks run out, the kids just move on to the next mom. Of course, not every child gets every snack, but everybody always seems to get enough. In between snacks (and often with mouths full of food) the kids run around and play with each other. Here again, it's really nice because I don't have to worry if Chloe runs out of sight. I know that the other moms will take care of her, just as I will help take care of their little ones who run into my area. On more than one occasion, I have gotten up to check on Chloe, only to find her sitting in some other mom's lap reading a book (or, more often, eating candy).
All of this has taken some getting used to, but now I really love it. Having said all that, I REALLY need to go get ready. Church starts in 50 minutes, and Chloe and I both need a bath.
Be back soon! Blessings!