Parenting: You probably aren’t supposed to start with 6

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The Man & I have been teaching teens or working with youth groups or trying to feed hungry teenagers who’ve landed at our house for several years now. Sometime in the past decade, we realized this might not be the usual way to fall into spending a ridiculous amount of time with kids.

I mean, most people start with babies and then move up, you know?  But no.  I gotta be different.

I’m not joking when I say that kids make sense to me only after they go through puberty. Maybe I’ll get better at it once we’ve had our own brood, but little kids declare me to be weird. They’re such literalists while I traffic almost entirely in understatement, irony, pun, hyperbole, and satire.

I figured you needed that background to understand fully the impact of my next sentence:

For the past two weekends, we’ve been the “relief parents” at Calvary Home for Children.

Please indulge yourself in as many mental scenarios of disaster as you’d like. I’ll wait. 😉

CHC is an amazing ministry that works hard to provide a safe, gracious space for kids in foster care to find real love and stability, especially groups of siblings (who otherwise would be split up among multiple foster homes). We’ve known the CHC folks for nearly a decade, and they do incredible work.

Our first experience with CHC came through our classrooms at New Covenant – some students were placed at NCS for their coursework.  (I remember Coart spending two nights a week with a particular trio of 8th grade CHC girls for a full year, doing extra tutoring so they could pass his Logic class.)

We still keep up with a number of our former-CHC students, and it’s exciting to see them thriving despite the hardships of their backgrounds.

I’ll save those stories for another day.

You *know* CHC must be hard up for relief parents if they called us. 😉   Indeed, they’ve lost a lot of folks off the volunteer list in recent weeks due to attrition, moving, and other normal factors.  And the current house parents still need their two relief breaks a month (child care can drive people batty faster than anything else, I imagine, so relief is important for the house parents).

I was pretty reluctant at first.  Six kids ranging from 4 to about 16.  I don’t know what to do with a 4 year old. Really.  Fortunately, we have a 20 year old in the household who’s great with kids…. so we convinced Liz to join in this adventure and tackled the job as a team of three.

I gotta say ….  The two weekends really were great.

Yeah, so, I know NOTHING about important things like "where can we find a good park" and "what does a 6 year old eat, anyway?"  Answers: The Castle Park at the Civic Center is a blast.  Also, 6 year olds aren't really into lasagna. :/
Yeah, so, I know NOTHING about important things like “where can we find a good park” and “what does a 6 year old eat, anyway?” Answers: The Castle Park at the Civic Center is a blast. Also, 6 year olds aren’t really into lasagna. :/

The house parents (the Parkers) have their cottage running like a well-oiled machine.  With lots of love, good structure, clear expectations, realistic expectations.

The kiddos themselves are great kids…. caught in a bad situation beyond their control and trying to make the best of it.  We went to the park. We went to the zoo. (Turtles! Lions! Elephants! Giraffe!!!) We climbed stuff. We got dirty. We ate ice cream. (Don’t tell.)

Sure, we had our moments.  The 4yo definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed every day this weekend, and I was definitely raised with a different philosophy of food choices than kids nowadays. (What, you don’t feed your elementary kids cabbage rolls or stuffed green peppers or chicken cacciatore? Because that’s what landed on my plate “back in the day,” and the only alternative was “fine, don’t eat.”)

But if you’re looking for a way to truly love your neighbor in a tangible, meaningful way, consider calling the folks at Calvary Home and offering them your skills (cook? clean? tutor? babysit? play? Surely you can do one of those!).  Or money. That’s always useful.

And if you aren’t from around here, I’m sure you won’t have to look far to find broken relationships to heal, children who need love, a house that needs cleaned, food to cook, a family in need.


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