Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Raisin' Kids

I wrote this note to friends from a summer camp that I worked at nearly a decade ago. I grew up at various summer camps, and like so many other people, the experience shaped me in some lasting ways. I still draw on those experiences as a how to manual: how to be a parent, how to teach, how to be a minister, how to be a Christian.

Dear Illahee Friends,
I was writing the note below to A. about the kids. She asked a perfectly benign question, but it got me thinking. Probably not worth all this, but I thought I'd share it with a lot of folks who helped me learn how to take care of children by mostly laughing stuff off. I got mad last night when this story occurred, at the kids for being kids, at Kristen for not being on the same page with me, since of course, my page is the right one. But the more I thought about this, especially today, the funnier it got.

A. asked if the chickens (our three kids) were minding their manners:
I wrote:

"Of course the chickens are not minding their manners. They run all over the farm and don't listen worth a you know what. Everyone else says how well behaved they are, but they don't see stuff like, last night, George and Kathryn were playing fort for about an hour past bedtime, building forts in Kathryn's bed and whispering at the top of their lungs. Every stuffed animal in the house looked like they were bedded down for the night, but the three and nearly five year old were no where near wound down and ready to sleep. Finally, I made George sleep in the other room (usually he is in the top bunk in the same room--great for bonding, but bad for being quiet). You would have thought I cut his arm off. He wailed and screamed for his mommy and of course, we all argued about it.
It's a lot more fun to think about the next day then in the moment! Seriously, we are having a great time. Of course, I lucked into marrying a saint who puts up with all my... And further, nobody, I mean nobody is able to forgive you like your children. I'm sure that will change in the next decade, but I will take it while I can.

Send your fort memories or at least think of your own, etc. so we can share in the old Illahee days if only by memory and the web. All of us have taken care of children, been short with them, and wished we had been more patient. If my laughter interrupts my discipline, then I am usually a better parent. Discipline has never been a struggle for me--sadly. It's not physical, but it can get a little loud and I've seen the fright in a young child's face when I've raised the volume too much. For that, I am certain I will have to answer for come judgment day. I'm going to remember to be patient the way I was trained as a cabin counselor and hopefully helped train a few of you. It's always easier to be patient with other people's kids, but my own deserve the same benefit of the doubt.

I miss you all dearly though many of you I only worked with in a formal way for one or two years, and that really means somewhere from three to twenty weeks. But we all know, camp time is like dog years.

Have a great week! George
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