The Chocolate Lady

Monday, August 6, 2007

A helpful parenting idea

I had a recent conversation with an old college friend, (hmmm, old? Yes, I guess it’s safe to say we are “old friends”…not that we ourselves are old, but our friendship is old, 20+ years, and, well, I guess that makes us old too.) but anyways, we were chatting about our lives, our kids, and parenting.

This particular pal has one boy, a year old, and, since Im OLDER and have three kids, that in some ways makes me wiser, or at least more ready to pull my hair out. I think my friend looks up to me, since she is in the thick of the “first time mom” thing , and I have so much fantastic advice. Like the time she was on a little vacation with her son, and she almost had to cut it short because he wasn’t sleeping in new and unfamiliar places. His lack of sleep kept them both up all night, and him crying and fussing all day, which made the trip nearly unbearable.

I was happy to share with her my favorite traveling companion, Benadryl. “Don’t cut your vacation short!” I told her, “Just give him Benadryl at night and it will get him right back on schedule.” It’s also handy for long plane flights, and well, sometimes nights at home when your kids are a bit out of wack.

But back to this recent chat, I expounded to her on the benefits of charity and how much it teaches our children when we give to those less fortunate. Let me explain.

When Pooper was an infant, My Honey and I decided to sponsor a child through World Vision It’s a great organization, and for very few dollars, you can help provide food, clothes, an education and Christian training to a child in a 3rd world country. We selected a boy, Pooper’s age, and we chose the country of Colombia, as My Honey was born there. When my daughters were born, we selected a baby girl each time, also from Colombia. It has been a great experience, and we frequently get photos of the children and sometimes letters and artwork. Our refrigerator door has a section for our “Colombian Family”, and my kids know all about their “brother and sisters.”

Ill admit the reason we started with this charity is because we thought it would help the children from World Vision. In actuality, it has been really good for my children, and well most of all it has been a fantastic parenting tool for me.

Case in point. Beauty’s eyes are bigger than her tummy, and she often has me make her a snack, and then is “finished” after a bite or two, leaving a whole plate of food to go to waste. Now, back in my day, my mom would rant about starving children in Africa who didn’t have any food, and I really didn’t make the connection, Id think, “go ahead and mail them my peas, please!” But I have what my mother never had, a real, live, Colombian family on my fridge.

I reference them often with things like, “You have the nerve to cry about not watching Sponge Bob? Do you realize your Colombian brother doesn’t even have a TV? Heck, he doesn’t barely have a house, he lives in a cardboard box with no lights or water, and you are crying about a TV show?” or “I don’t care if your happy meal toy broke, your Colombian sister doesn’t even have toys, and they usually don’t even have food…..and you have food and toys, so be quiet and eat!”

Really, it’s been very handy. Any time my kids start griping and complaining, which seems to be constantly, I just drag them into the kitchen to get a good look at their Colombian counterparts, wide-eyed-standing-in-the-dirt-with-mismatched-clothes-and-no-shoes HAPPY children. I remind them of their siblings that are thrilled over the rainbow when given any bit of food, even yucky stuff my kids wouldn’t touch. I tell them stories about how content these little sweeties are, and yet they never go to Chuckee Cheese or birthday parties or to a swimming pool.

Typically my kids feel a tinge of the guilt Im trying to jam down their throats, and sometimes they really get it. Once, after hollering about how they leave their toys around the house, and don’t take care of their things, when their siblings don’t even have toys….Andrew went and gathered a large box of his favorite toys, and asked me to send them to his brother.

Of course, that touched my heart, as I was able to see that learning to care about others has really been good for my kids. And I hope it’s helped the Colombian kids too.

**By the way, Blogger is having a problem with their "polls", but as soon as it's fixed Ill put up another poll, just for fun. Im thinking in the future, I might have a contest, (yes, with a prize, because my mom's favorite blogger The Pioneer Woman has contests with prizes, and my mom is always raving about them) I might have a contest to see who can submit the best Poll, be thinking about it, and watch to enter the contest, probably next week. ***


Joanne said...

how about an "exchange" program?
aunt joanne

The Running Girl said...

That's so cool that you have "adopted" kids from Columbia. I didn't know your "honey" was born there. Very cool.