I watched Instant Family today before work. It stars Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as a couple who foster three kids. It made me miss having my kids at home. Watching them try to learn to parent a teen also made me miss all of my other kids from throughout the years. Here is the story of the other kids.
When we moved to Maryland in the mid-90’s we joined Severn Baptist Church. It was a relatively small church, so it was one where eventually someone was going to ask you to serve in some way. There was no option of getting lost in the crowd. We were willing to serve, so that was OK with us. We did one year working with 4 year olds. Well, my wife worked with them, I spent every hour feeling trapped and wishing the hour was up. It was not for me. I was then asked if I would be interested in helping with the youth group. I wasn’t really sure if I would be any good at it, but I figured it had to be better than the 4 year olds, so I said yes. My wife did one lock-in with me(she was pregnant with our now almost 23 year old son at the time. We were very young) and decided the youth work was not for her. I was the exact opposite. I knew pretty quick I had found my place.
Over the next 14 years I worked with the church youth group in some way. I taught Wednesday night Bible Study. I chaperoned lock-ins. I taught middle school Sunday School. I chaperoned winter retreats. I went to camp with them for a week every summer. I did one week of chaperoning a mission trip where the kids did construction and I just tried to stay out of the way. I loved the work and I loved the kids. Some of the best times in my life were spent with them. Eventually, my first group of kids graduated and moved away. I kept working with the youth group for a while, but then it became apparent that we needed to make a change is where we worshiped. The youth group I worked with and loved was gone and I could see that my kids were not happy with where we were. It was time for Mr Alan to leave so that his kids could find their place. We eventually found a new church with a youth group my kids loved. I didn’t volunteer to work with the group at first. I wanted my kids to have their place without me around. I have now gone on a few weekend retreats with the youth group and driven for some other events. It is very different being involved as someone’s dad and not as the random 20 something who, while not cool, at least had the bonus of being closer to their age than their parents. Both of my kids are off to college now and I have no one in the youth group. This might be a good time to volunteer for a few more things as Mr Alan, not someone’s dad and see if I still have it in me to do it. Instant Family made me long for the days when I spent most of my off hours hanging out with teens.
I’m still connected with many of my “kids” on Facebook. Most of them are married with kids these days and I only see them online. I’m always happy to see them doing well. It makes me feel old to see them with their kids, but they are all good people and I’m proud to have been a small part of their lives. I will leave you with a couple of collages of old pictures I scanned from time with them. Just ignore the fact that I messed up and scanned some of them upside down.
I don’t seem to have it in me to write a long thought on anything lately. Here are a few quick thoughts on random things.
Blog Envy – I follow a few blogs that have existed for a year or less and they have posted that they already have thousands of followers. I’ve been posting regularly for over a year(the blog has existed way longer) and I still have not even hit 200 followers. Obviously, I am not good at building an audience. I don’t foresee that changing. I will continue to be happy to hit 500 views for the month That seems a reasonable goal for me.
Teenagers – I used to work with a church youth group. I was in my 20’s and 30’s and had no teens of my own. I taught middle school Sunday School, went to and sometimes led the youth group meetings, went to summer camps and winter retreats, etc. I then took a long time off after we changed churches and my kids entered youth group. I have chaperoned a youth trip each winter now for a few years and just did it again this past weekend. It is very different going as a parent and not knowing most of the teens on the trip. It’s more fun when you know the kids well and they want to spend time with you(or at least pretend they do)
Winter – We keep getting little nuisance snows. I have not had a snow day yet. I got to go home early one day. I really need a snow day. This winter is not cooperating.
Super Bowl – I will watch the Super Bowl. I always watch the Suer Bowl. I will be cheering for the Eagles this year not because I like them, but because I really don’t like the Patriots. I will be more interested in the commercials this year than the game. I hope they don’t disappoint me.
State of the Union – I never watch. I read the speech the next day in the paper. I will do the same this year. I will be watching Kentucky basketball instead.
That’s all I’ve got. Off to work.
I was thinking about my upcoming personal schedule and I’m tired just thinking about it. I work today 11-9, tomorrow 9-5, Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 1-5. Thursday night/Friday morning from midnight to 7am I will be at church acting as a monitor for the winter relief homeless shelter. I will come home, try to sleep while my family is home and then, Friday night, go to a friends house and probably stay out too late. I then work 7 days in a row Saturday to Friday, leave work at 3 on Friday to drive home, pick up my daughter and head to church to leave for a youth weekend retreat in Ocean City. We get back in time to stay up late again to watch the Super Bowl and then get up Monday morning to start the work thing all over again, including my speed friending event at my old branch that may or may not get any attendees. I guess maybe mid to late month I might get a chance to just relax. I think I’m getting too old for all of this. I should retire.
The upcoming youth group trip started me thinking about the difference between when I first started working with a youth group and now. My daughter doesn’t believe me when I say the kids in the youth group I worked with at our old church actually liked me. She’s just kidding, but there is a big difference in then and now. When I was first asked to help with the youth group at my old church I was a 26 year old with no kids of my own. I was closer in age to the teenagers than I was to their parents. I was willing to stay up all night at lock-ins, play football, capture the flag, etc. I’m still willing to do all of that. I’m just old, tired and fat now. I also spent more time with the kids back then. I wasn’t just occasionally going on a trip with them. I was teaching Wednesday night Bible study and/or middle school Sunday school, so I saw the kids on a regular basis. It also helped that I was not related to anyone on the group. The dynamic is different when you are a younger adult volunteering than when you are someone’s dad. I still have difficulty adjusting to this new reality of being a random chaperone and not something more.
So, the moral of this post is that I am old and tired and need to stop thinking so much.