Monday, July 24, 2006


In our cable internet, fast food, instant message world, it is difficult to teach children about delayed gratification. "I've been working on this for 2 minutes and it is not finished...I give up." Teaching them to work hard at a project, over time, and wait for the results is difficult.

It is even more difficult to teach them why they should...why they MUST... do such a thing when there is no tangible reward for them personally. Even the simple act of doing chores (see... you have a clean glass the next time you want something to drink because you loaded the dishwasher now) doesn't drive that point home very well. Doing homework today so one has the knowledge for the test at the end of the week is terribly abstract. We often resort to "because I said so". It works... but is the lesson learned?

For the second summer, Kaitlyn is far away from our home. Trusted to the care of good friends who will watch over her as if she were their own.... for she is. She is part of their families as their children are part of our ours. Our church family. She has terribly restrictive rules that will serve her well. We allow her to self-medicate when she feels the need for allergy medication. We do so because she needs to learn to be able to listen to her body and care for it. They do not allow her to do so because some might have issues with controlled substances so all substance are controlled. This chafes but lessons are learned. She must be taught how to use the power tools before she can use them. Again. Everyone who is using a power tool must have instruction even if they use them every day the rest of the year. This is the only way they can be sure no one goes uninstructed. "I KNOW...!" I know you know. Everyone knows. Except the new people. And you might have forgotten. The worst rule, hands down, for all of them is the No Cell Phone rule. They must be left at home.

Teens don't think outside themselves naturally. It is a time of self-centeredness. We all go through it. Some of us are fortunate enough to be taught to think outside ourselves ANYWAY. Others grow up to be the same self-centered teens in adult bodies. But that's a blog for another day.....

Last summer Kaitlyn put a new roof on a house (with her team) that needed it. It was a house far different from those Kaitlyn and her team live in. Fractionally smaller certainly. No granite counter tops. No SubZero appliances. No internet hookups. No wide screen TV's. No swimming pool in the backyard.

They stayed late the last day and finished their roof. They were within their rights to leave it for the next week's team to finish. They nearly missed dinner that last day in their quest to finish. But finish they did. They made their counselor's proud, the leadership proud and the family who owned the house happy. They also made their families proud of them. More importantly, they made themselves proud. We finished the roof. They worked hard. They worked long hours. On a roof in the summer. For someone else. Their decision to stay and finish that roof was a good one. A new team was expected the following week. But something happened. Illness or something. I don't remember now, but it meant that the worksite was shut down for the summer. The full time volunteers (they are there the entire summer) had to finish all the incomplete projects. But not that roof.

We won't know what Kaitlyn did this week until she gets home. The only communication we get is "they have arrived safely". No further communication is good because we would only hear if there was an emergency. No news is good news. We send communication to THEM... and they must sing and dance for their mail. So she might be roofing, she might be painting. She might be putting on a deck, repairing a porch or adding a wheelchair ramp. She will do what is needed and necessary. From what I am always told, she does so without complaint. She gives a full effort. She is careful and conscientious. This is, of course, far from our experience at home!

But we are still proud of her. She has mentioned that she won't be going to SSP next year. Summer school and summer homework is on her list next year. She has been spending and will be spending long hours working on summer homework that is due on August 11 in payment for missing a week at home. (Which I think is just wrong, but there it is) We shall see. I know that the thought of being out in the heat working on home improvement projects does not appeal to me in the least. Nor does it appeal to Emma. She asked if she "had to" go to SSP. I told her no.... she did not.

That won't absolve her from Service however. We will just have to find something a bit less sweaty for her.

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