Reverse Trick or Treating: Teaching the young to “treat” the elderly {Guest Post}

Some of my most precious childhood memories involve my cousins.  I fondly recall giddy slumber parties, impromptu “shows” performed from the hearth, rating firecrackers, and road trips to the beach.  As we’ve grown up to balance careers, families, and homes, our time together is sparser than we’d prefer.  Instead of gathering together a few times per month, it’s closer to a few times per year.  Now that my cousin, Jennifer, joined me as a blogger, I’m finding that we are keeping better tabs on each other’s families, and I treasure that.   I’m delighted to share our pre-Halloween community service activity experience here.

Although my children are very young, I hope to instill in them the importance of service to others.  In a materialistic and often egocentric society, my heart’s desire is they will learn that what they have is not of importance.  Instead, what they give to others is what truly matters.  Being quadruplets, our children have been the recipients of prayers, donations, and care from others even before they were even born.  The generosity of others continues to humble me with each passing day, and now it’s our turn to pay it forward.

Although our children are barely toddlers, they are not too young to touch the lives of others.  Several weeks ago, my mom and I brought them to visit my Grandma at her residence, which is a faith-based assisted living facility.  While we came to visit Grandma, the kids most clearly brightened the days of many other residents.  Mom confided in me that she saw beautiful smiles and bright eyes on the faces of residents never seen with her previous visits.  Hearing that encouraged me to make an effort to bring the kids back as much as possible.

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In addition to brightening the day of residents, the kids also bring a smile to the faces of the caretakers. One of the sisters enjoyed toting Sydney around the room to visit residents.

When I learned of a family event at Grandma’s home, I excitedly accepted the invitation, as did several other family members.  Given the time of year, I thought “Reverse Trick or Treating” would be an ideal way for the kids to give of themselves.  Jennifer and I dressed each of our children in their most festive, cheery outfits for the occasion and brought loot bags crammed with candy.

Following a quick indoor picnic lunch, we set out to deliver candy instead of seeking it.  The older of the cousins took the lead approaching residents and doling out goodies.  Naturally, my children enjoyed handing pieces of candy to recipients, then trying to snatch it back (giving and taking is currently all the rage at our house).  While many people wanted to appease the little ones, by returning the candy, I made sure that each morsel of candy remained with its rightful owner.  Still, I think most people enjoyed the banter with my kids so it was all in good fun.

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When we travel, it usually works best to keep the quads in their twin strollers for meals. The snack and drink holders help keep everything contained.

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Before we set out to share candy, we snapped a group picture with Grandma and her grandsons and seven of her nine great-great grandchildren.

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After delivering candy to each resident, we had quite a bit of candy left.  We could have gobbled it up, but instead someone suggested stashing the remaining candy in Grandma’s room.  You see, Grandma has a ravenous sweet tooth and would be sure to relish treats long after we were gone.  The kids and adults alike joyfully stuffed candy in every nook and cranny imaginable.  We left morsels in her candles, under her pillows, and even in her Bible cover!

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Apparently one of Jennifer’s children saved a lollipop from last Halloween. It was glued to the inside of this loot bag.

Jennifer’s youngest child took great pride in stashing candy in the bathroom while her middle child meticulously hid some in Grandma’s Bible cover.

Jennifer’s youngest child took great pride in stashing candy in the bathroom while her middle child meticulously hid some in Grandma’s Bible cover.

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Here are George and I with the quadruplets: Rylin, Sydney, Harper, and Mason. Jennifer was quick on the trigger because it’s rare for us to have all four sitting still long enough for a picture.

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Jennifer’s three were excellent role models for the quadruplets. We even noticed her youngest son telling Harper not to open a cabinet that was off-limits.

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In case you were concerned that the children were deprived of candy…there’s evidence they had a little indulgence on Mason’s face.

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Being energetic 15 month old toddlers, the kids don’t sit still long, but Harper obliged Grandma with a quick snuggle before he escaped.

The day following our visit, I was overjoyed to find a voicemail left from Grandma explaining how she “laughed and laughed” upon finding candy hidden about her room, especially when she even found some in her bathroom.  Given that message, I believe our “Reverse Trick or Treating” antics touched at least one heart.  I can’t wait until our next visit to Grandma’s place.  I’m thinking we may bring cookies from Santa to the residents…

What is your favorite service activity?

Hugs,

Amber

P.S. If you are curious about what it is like raising zany quadruplets, please stop by our blog,Four to Adore.  There, I chronicle our adventures and share some of the lessons we learn along the way.

My Mommy Secret #2: The Dinner Table is Not a Battlefield

And then she turned 3. I’m not exaggerating when I say that she went to bed one night a “good eater” and woke the next morning to be a “terror” at the kitchen table. If it didn’t taste good, it was too mushy. If it wasn’t too mushy, it was too hard. If it wasn’t too hard, it “spiced her tongue.” If it wasn’t too spicy, it was too hot. If it wasn’t too hot, it was — you guessed it. Too cold. Different foods couldn’t touch or be mixed together (she got that one from her dad, according to his mother). Certain foods had to be cut. Other foods couldn’t be cut. Sometimes she wanted to feed herself. And other times, we had to spoon feed her. We found ourselves in a battle of the wills, at every meal, 3 times per day to get her to eat. Forget about all the battles we were having about HOW she was eating. Like a little piggy to the trough — straight out of A Christmas Story! Food was everywhere but in her mouth. Continue reading

The Power of a Greeting

I don’t know about you, but our parenting journey has included seasons where the fruit of our labor is so easy to see.  And then there are other seasons where that fruit is absent.  Devoid.  Nonexistent.  Wholly missing.  Shriveled up.  And seemingly rotten.  Or at least that’s how it appears on the surface.  In these times, we begin to doubt whether we will ever reach the next milestone, conquer the latest discipline issues, and see growth in our kids.

But we are learning to trust that, even in seasons of drought, God is alive and is working through our efforts as parents and in the hearts of our children.  Because just when we feel like throwing up our hands and giving up (or giving in), inevitably, God gives us a glimmer of hope.  This happened on Sunday.  Praise Jesus!

One of the issues we have struggled with lately is the manner in which our kids greet people in public.  They have been taught a moral baseline regarding our expectations.  When someone greets them, they are expected to give eye contact to that person and to provide a verbal response.  THAT’S IT.  We’re not asking them to run for governor or shake hands and kiss babies all day long!  ANYTHING beyond eye contact and a verbal response is their choice.  A hug.  A handshake.  Further conversation.

But we have been struggling with this, particularly in the morning when we are walking the kids to their classrooms at school.  And every time we do, we smile at the person getting the Heisman, shrug our shoulders, and say, “I’m so sorry.  We’re working on this.”  And then, Kory and I revisit the issue.  Again. 

Last week, though, we had a break through.  

I’ve been taking a Love and Logic class at our school, and it’s been a great refresher for me regarding the power of logical consequences — consequences put into the lives of my children that logically relate to the training issue we’re dealing with.  We’ve known about logical consequences for a while now, but this class has caused me to think them through more critically and to really ponder and pray, “Lord, what is the most logical consequence for this particular area of training?”  

So as Kory and I talked this over, it occurred to us.  It’s a privilege, not a right, to be walked to class.  And it certainly isn’t any fun to walk kids to class when they ignore everyone in their path.  If it’s a privilege, then what would happen if we took that privilege away?  

The next time we had an issue, we decided to find out.  We told our son that we would not be walking him to his classroom anymore until he came to us and told us that he was ready to extend common courtesy to those who greet us in the hallway.  Sounds small, but it had an impact.  Although he took his medicine like a champ, he was devastated.

Almost immediately, we began to see a change.  After two days of not being walked to class, we were noticing him not only responding to the greetings of others, but also going out of his way to be the greeter!  I even had a couple stop me at church on Sunday to compliment my son for the greeting he gave them when we sat down.  Wow.  

On the way home from church, we were listening to the radio.  The song, I Want To Live With Abandon, by the Newsboys, was playing.  

From the backseat, my son asked, “Mommy, what does it mean to live with abandon?”  

“To love Jesus with all your heart and to show the love of Jesus boldly to everyone you meet,” I answered.

He thought for a minute about what I had said, and then he asked, “so you get better?”  

“Yes, you get better.”  

And then he gave me a glimpse of the fruit — “So when I greet people, am I living with abandon?”  

“Yes!  Yes you are!”  I said.  

He was grinning from ear to ear when I caught his gaze in the rearview mirror.  I realized at that moment that my son wants to live with abandon!  We’re just in the process of teaching him how.  And it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What milestones have you recently had with your children?  What milestones are you desperately hoping for?  

 

  

 

Family Fun Day

Family time is really important. In fact, third only to our personal relationships with Jesus Christ and our relationship as a married couple, we believe it is the most important way in which we can spend our time. We believe it is particularly important to be spending quality time as a family while our children are young so that we can hope to build strong relationships with them and establish solid family identity. We know as a result of those who have gone before us that it is critical we have both of these things well-developed by the time our children enter the teen years. Continue reading