Yesterday my son went with his youth group to volunteer with Target:Dayton. They served a meal to the people who came in need of one. Some were homeless, others barely getting by. Timmy was in charge of the coffee.
As we drove home, after the bus dropped him back off at our local church, I asked him about his experience. These are the 3 simple things he shared with me and the profound lessons I learned from him:
1. Tim's quote: "Not everyone there "looked" homeless." Mom's lesson: Not everyone I meet today who could use my help or encouragement will "look" like they need it. That doesn't mean I should withhold it. Target:Dayton provides their services indiscriminately and lets each individual decide whether or not they need them and want to receive them. I should be so generous with my time, resources and attention.
2. Tim's quote: "I didn't know there were so many people in Dayton that were homeless. There were so many of them." Mom's lesson: The need in the world is greater than I realize or have ever actually seen with my own eyes. If I saw it all at once, it would likely overwhelm me and paralyze me. The need is great. I would be wise not to forget that.
3. Tim's quote: "There was a lady who worked there who came up to me and told me I was doing a good job." Mom's lesson: It helps to know when we are on the right track. Serving others isn't easy and when I see someone doing it well, I should tell them so. We all secretly wonder whether what we are doing is making a difference and whether we are "doing it right." Words of encouragement are precious gifts that keep the givers giving.
One bonus lesson I learned: The first time our children (or any one else for that matter) experience something, we need to pay attention to their reactions and descriptions. When we have "been there and done that," we forget the power of a first experience and the unique perspective that comes with it.
Today I saw one of those cute printables on Pinterest. You know the ones I'm talking about. This one had a list of 21 questions to ask your kiddos. I should have glanced at the questions before I started asking Tim, but I didn't. As I made my way down the list, I realized every question had to do with ME... what he thought of me, his perceptions of me, etc. Oh dear.
Well, it certainly could have gone worse. Some of his answers were actually very sweet and even encouraging. Others were a bit too accurate, if you get my drift. Here are the results:
1. What does your Mom say to you all the time? "Do your chore sheet!" (I'd like to think I say it a little nicer than that... perhaps not? hmmm.)
2. What makes your Mom happy? "Food." (I'm working on that one, maybe by this time next year he will say something like, "the stairmaster.")
3. What makes your Mom sad? "When I do bad things." (Awww, I guess it does make me sad, but I wish he would have said something like "people living in poverty" or "seeing people hurting" or something more big picture and less day-to-day. C'est la vie. I suppose I don't show him what saddens me much of the time... I'll have to ponder that one.)
4. What makes your Mom laugh? "Funny TV shows." (That's a gimme.)
5. What did your Mom like to do when she was a kid? "Ummm, cheerleading, I think?" (Did I ever!!! I also liked riding my bike around the block in our trailer park, pretending it was a horse... ahhh, the weird old days.)
6. How old is your Mom? "You are 37, right?" (Right.)
7. How tall is your Mom? "Five Foot Four." (Wrong.)
8. What is your Mom's favorite thing to do? "Hang out with people." (I like this one.)
9. What does your Mom do when you aren't around? "Go on a date with Dad." (Yup! I'd like to think that this answer means we are communicating volumes to our son about the joy of marriage and our commitment to each other... in actuality, who knows what he's thinking!)
10. If your Mom was famous, what would it be for? "I have no idea on this one." (Thanks for the vote of confidence, Son.) ;)
11. What is your Mom really good at? "Writing." (Awww. Thanks!)
12. What is your Mom NOT good at? "Jumping." (Okay, weird answer, but okay.)
13. What does your Mom do for work? "Nothing now." (Correct-a-mundo! Unless you count laundry, cooking, vacuuming, dishes... but what almost-11-year-old boy counts those things? The DNC Advisor didn't even think that those things were work for Ann Romney and she had FIVE sons!)
14. What is your Mom's favorite food? "Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory." (Krazy Kraig's Carrot Cake Cheesecake to be exact, and their Santa Fe Chicken Salad is equally divine... well, maybe not equally.)
15. What are you most proud of your Mom for? "That she is a good Mom." (I'm not makin this stuff up, folks! Can someone hand me a tissue?)
16. If your Mom was a cartoon character which one would she be? "Umm, that smart girl from Scooby Doo. Velma?" (Well, its no Wonder Woman, but it could have been worse, I do wear glasses.)
17. What do you do with your Mom? "We watch movies... eat... go places... I don't know!" (Hmmm, time to add a bit of variety to the routine, perhaps.)
18. How are you and your Mom the same? "We both have blonde hair." (True enough.)
19. How are you and your Mom different? "Um, I'm a boy and she's a girl." (Thank you, Captain Obvious! I thought about pressing him for a different answer on this one, but I suppose that gender is an important distinction.)
20. How do you know your Mom loves you? "You tell me so." (And I always will.)
21. Where is your Mom's favorite place to go? "France." "Tim, I've never been to France." "Oh. Then Disney World!" (Well, definitely in my top five anyway!)
Ask a kid in your life these questions and see what you find out! You never know unless you ask.
Now I think I will sit down and answer the same questions about my Mom and send my response to her in her Mother's Day card. :) I wonder how tall she is these days...
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!