Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

So there was no camp.  Hallelujah for no camp.  Praise the Lord for trips to San Antonio. I was rejoicing right up until the moment we neared the Grand Prairie city limits.  And then it hit me.  Five boys (ages 9-12) and one girl (age 11) and three adults (age old enough to know better than to be outnumbered by tweens).  All of those camp distractions... other kids, preaching, silly songs, ridiculous skits... those were not going to be part of this trip.  The kids had already started to fight.  I quickly realized that we needed some ground rules.  I found my most authoritative voice and I announced the basic warnings that went something like Don't touch each other, Don't say bad words, and Don't sing your swear-filled Cee Lo songs.  And then we were off.

By the time we hit Austin, we were definitely ready to get out of the van.  I issued appropriate Please behave yourselves warning, and we walked into the restaurant.  A regular, sit-down restaurant.  Yep, we were just asking for trouble.  But honestly, what adult actually wants to eat at McDonald's, even with kids? It's just disgusting, and after see those videos about mechanically separated chicken and watching Super Size Me, I might never eat McDonald's ever again.  I instructed the kids to check out the kids menu, and I almost instantly heard the complaints.  There were only six things on the kids menu, and each came with the choice of two sides from a list of about 25 sides.  I am no mathematician, but the possibilities of combinations were in the hundreds.  And they were complaining.  I believe my response went something like this.

Did YOU pay for this trip? I didn't think so.
And had we gone to McDonald's, you would have had the choice of chicken or burgers.  Two choices.
So this is where you say "Thanks, Julie for taking us to this restaurant"

With the motherly lectures out of the way, we were able to get down to the real business of enjoying ourselves.  The kids gave us their opinions on life, love, relationships, music.  We heard things like...

"Can you turn the air-conditioning on, please? I need to dry off my eyeballs!" 

Kid 1: "I blew up a black cat in my hand last night!" 
Kid 2: "Was there blood?"

"My Mom should've pushed me out as a girl."- Eric, age 11

"I got spendin' murney."- Eric, age 11 (who seemed to particularly enjoy adding r's to words)

Me to kids: There is no such thing as love at first sight. Maybe like, but not love.

Blake, age 11: Uh-huh! Like if the girl is extreeeemely hot!

We laughed, we cried (well, almost, out of frustration), we yelled (a little), we threatened (a lot), we sweat enough to fill the San Antonio River.  Here are ten things that I learned about kids during this trip:

1.  Give them a menu, and they will whine and complain.  Give them a hotel buffet serving only one main dish and a few mediocre sides, and they will love you forever.  And go back for seconds.

2. They will gladly injure another child to get in the elevator first to push the floor button.

3. They will spend every last cent of spending money they have on day one if you let them.

4. They do not understand that pizza + roller coasters = vomit.

5. When you give instructions of any kind, they hear absolutely nothing.  Or maybe they hear the voice of Charlie Brown's teacher, but probably they just hear nothing.

6. Boys do not walk.  They jump, kick, twirl, run, pounce, and climb, but they do not walk.  Ever. 

7. Establishing a SAME SEATS rule prevents a whole lot of fighting every time you get into a vehicle.

8. They do not care about the Alamo.  Not one little bit.  They do, however, like those souvenir penny machines.  

9.  They will go to great lengths to prevent embarrassment, including allowing their underwear to be thrown away because they are too shy to claim them.

10.  Three days with someone else's children is perfectly enough.  Especially when those children are fond of Monster energy drinks.

In the mornings and at night, we did a little Bible study.  I encouraged them to develop Bible study and prayer habits.  I walked them through a few truths about God's Word and why it matters to read it.  I showed them some reasons they should pray.  I hope that they carried some of that home with them.  I pray that something sunk in.  As much work as it was to drive and navigate an unfamiliar city and teach and referee silly, boyish fights, I loved getting to know these kids better.  I was happy to see them ride off with their parents, but I will be happy to see them again the next time they come to church.  

So for those of our church family who gave money and prayed for these kids, I thank you.  Thanks for making an investment in the lives of our kids.  But seriously, next year (God help us), culottes or no culottes, come hell or high water, we are going to camp.  

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