Raising littles people ain't no joke. As I've said before their are days when I'm sure I'm failing at this, but that doesn't mean I quit trying. One of the things Clay and I talked about way before we even had kids was how do we make them servants. How do we help them to understand that this world does not revolve around them. For those of you who have kids, the minute they take their first breath their little brains know to do whatever has to be done to get what they want….um, have you ever met a 2 year old!
One of the things I love about having a lot of kids is that, no matter what, you learn to defer to others…like, you have no choice. In our house that means enduring, I mean listening, to Bailey Kate sing, constantly, in a high pitch, monk like chant (because she just sings what she is thinking, not an actual song).Because it makes her happy the boys are learning to "happily" endure the noise. It means letting one brother use the only boogie board we own while you wait patiently and cheer him on. With a lot of humans in the fam we get lots of opportunities each day to "think of others as more important than yourself." Y'all, this is not easy, it's a lot of talking and definitely does NOT come naturally to my selfish humans, but we are making some progress.
Last night we had the opportunity to serve dinner to some friends in St Augustine who don't have homes. Clay and I want to teach our children to work and serve. One GIANT IMPORTANT aspect that we want to teach our children through serving others is that we are no better than anyone else. We are so immensely blessed to have all we have and by the Grace of God there go I. We are no better or different then the friends we serve, we are not better then them because we are serving them. We have been given SO much we do not deserve that we are happy and thrilled to bless and share a meal with others. Now, kids are way cool in that they don't naturally have these thoughts, They do however have NO filters! I definitely had to discuss with them that some of our friends may look different, smell different, speak differently, but you are not to say anything about their appearance (Cooper Nettles!). I have learned to prep for the worst with my children from experience. You know, that time BK asked the server at Steak'n'Shake, whohad a mouth full of gold teeth, if she "got those at my daddy's jewelry store, because they are super beautiful and i need some" Or the time Cooper, in front of his entire class, while giving a presentation, told his teacher she needed to buy a perfect pedi because "she had really dry feet." I mean, really, I can't even prep for the ridiculousness that comes out of my children's mouths!
Ok, so back to last night. My heart was in a mommy melted puddle watching my children. I realized that they were teaching me. They did not bat an eye. They put on their gloves (I mean who doesn't love dr. gloves when you are a kid), asked how they could help and got to work. Bailey Kate was in charge of passing out tortillas, with a bit of her added charm and sparkle, Cooper and Cole were in charge of lettuce and cheese, Jude was in charge of helping me dish out fruit salad. We also went with some other friends (who had 5 kids also….I mean, we had this serving thing on lockdown with all our humans), once we realized our friends couldn't carry all the food, all of our little people would ask, "can I help carry that to your table?'" As I watched my little 4 year old carry these sweet people's food to their table and just chat it up like they were best buds, I was literally a puddle. They did not see a broken person struggling with all that daily life throws at them, he just saw a friend who needed help bringing food to the table who liked to talk about who their favorite super hero is.
We are slowly learning this parenting thing, but I think, if we can continue to point our children outward and to help them RECOGNIZE needs and bless and serve others we will see a generation of world changers. One thing my parents taught me, and I am striving to teach my children, is being kind is great, being generous is awesome, but it's not really a sacrifice unless you are giving something of yourself or of your possessions that you will have to go without. If you can't feel the "loss" it's not much of a sacrifice. It also may mean we may need to get a little uncomfortable or step out of our nice clean bubble. This kind of goes against what it is to be a parent. We don't want our children to feel loss. We try and provide for all of our children's needs, but if we can teach them to be truly sacrificial, imagine the joy they will have in their life. Instead of constantly worrying about what they don't have or what they want or how they can get what their friends have they will live a life helping others find joy which, I think, is the most amazing feeling ever! I am still learning this, because, let's be honest, I really suck at it!