The Shut-Up Places

My kids and Leon and I are like a traveling road show.

We spent the long weekend traveling down to the Monterey area to see our parents. Noah was in great form all weekend, if by “great” you mean “really whiny, oddly hungry, and also full of hilarious one-liners.” In other words, he’s four and he’s acting as four as you can act.


As we drove from one parental house to another, Leon and Asher engaged in a serious conversation about Star Wars (which Leon had just watched for the FOURTH time). (Don’t worry–this isn’t a spoiler!)

Leon: I got really sad during some parts, and felt even a little teary.

Asher: You could also have tears of happiness watching that movie. There are happy parts!

Leon: Yes, that’s true. There are happy and sad parts.

Noah: I can talk in my head.

Everyone paused for a beat and then we all laughed really hard, which I think was surprising to Noah, who clearly had just realized something amazing.

I asked, “What are you saying in your head?” and he¬†did not respond. I’m not sure if he was too busy listening to his head to answer.


A few days later, we stopped in to visit Mission San Juan Bautista with our various parental units, because Selah is in fourth grade and studying the missions.

Look out, here we come!
Junipero Serra and the kids
Noah and John the Baptist


Selah, Asher, and Noah climbed on the old adobe wall, and Leon said, “Hey, they’re kids on a mission!”

Kids on a mission


After we explored the jail and hotels and gardens, I went into the mission gift shop with Selah and Noah to pay our entrance fee to the church itself. A sweet older lady was working at the register.

Me: I would like to pay admission for two adults and three children.

Lady: Are any of the children under five?

Me: Yes, one of them is!

Lady: Well, under five is free. So that’s two adults and two children.

Noah: No, three children!

Me: Yes, but you’re free.

Noah: No, I’m four!

The lady, Selah, and I all laughed really hard, and I tried to explain that I just mean I didn’t have to pay for him because he was under five.


We wandered on into the mission, and as was the case in some of the state park museums we’d just wandered through, a lot of rooms were furnished with antiques and roped off. Every time we approached a roped-off area, the kids would fiddle with the ropes or try to crane around them. Eventually we reached a room where you could peer through glass to see where the priests dined.

Nice digs

Noah: Can we go in there?

Me: No, we can’t go into any of the shut-up places. They’re just for looking.

Asher: You said shut up! [Kids all laugh gleefully]

Me: NO! I meant that they are shut! They are shut and we can’t go in!

Selah: They’re shut up places! [Kids all keep laughing]


When we got to the sanctuary, there were signs asking for quiet. Nobody was in there, but it is still a functioning church, and it was a place of quiet, history, and beauty, for all of the negative associations that sort of haunt the background in the grounds and cemetery too. The kids were tiring, after several hours of touring, and they were starting to act up. They were being overly boisterous, so I told them solemnly, “This is a shut up place. You’re supposed to be quiet.” Of course then we were all giggling (except Leon, who was glaring at us between taking photos) so that may not have been very productive. Oops.

Sorry, guys
Sorry, guys



2 responses to “The Shut-Up Places”

  1. I love the one liners from kids or expected funny moments. They totally make my day.

    We took the kids to Arlington, between my 3 (at the time) and my brother’s 3, we had 6 from 8 mo -15. I was hard on my older two on the way in, explaining I would tolerate nothing by quiet respectfulness.

    Anyway, at the changing of the guard, we told then 4 year old that it was expected that she would be quiet the entire time. It was solemn (and explained that term), and, if she had questions she would have to remember them and ask later.

    The changing finished, and we got up to leave. My dad looked at her and asked what she thought, and she said “it’s quiet time and you need to be quiet or momma will be mad”. He *still* laughs at that.

    1. Haha! Well, he broke the rules!

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