Yesterday I told you the story about Gladine when we watched Jumanji together, so today I figured we should do an older kids story. We consider our older kids to be the ones that are 12 and older and 12 out of our 19 children fall into this age range now. The truth is that some of our funniest, cutest, and most difficult stories come from this age group. They are smart, funny, and they know how to pull your strings (both negatively and positively) just like kids this age in the states do. In fact, they know that I am heading back to America soon, and because of that they know they can get me to do a lot more stuff for them. For instance, they actually told me, last night, that because I am leaving soon I should let them stay late after service every night. They said that they are really going to miss me and want to spend time together. Now, while that is partly true, a big reason for them saying that was because someone recently donated an Xbox and they know that if I let them stay I will probably let them play that as well. If you have older children, I am sure that sounds familiar! Anyway, let’s get to the story…
Story 3: A Taste of Freedom
We recently decided that our older kids need more freedom than what we are giving them. They are in the community, and they hang out with their friends a lot, but only at very controlled times and always in the presence of adults. Some of our kids are 16 and older and will eventually (sooner than later) be out on their own with little adult supervision and they need to know how to live and interact with people. At first, our house moms really did not like the idea, but then Jess asked them how old their kids were, and then asked them if their children go out on their own. At that point, the house moms understood what we were doing and agreed. There comes a time when you have to trust that your kids know how to act without you. So 2 weeks ago we started letting the kids just go out on their own and play. They had to tell us where they were going and there were rules and boundaries that they could not pass, but in general they had freedom for the first time in a while.
Do you remember getting your driver’s license when you were younger? The idea that you could drive wherever you wanted whenever you wanted gave you an incredible sense of freedom, in theory. However, the day after you got your license (especially if you have younger siblings) you began to realize that the freedom was a little better in theory than it was in practice. There were rules, curfews, and errands that you have to run once you get your car that cut into the freedom that is also there. I think our kids figured that out too. They were so excited about the thought that they could go out on their own, but when the boys went out for the first time, they were give 1.5 hours to go do whatever they wanted. They were so nervous about being late, and could not figure out what they wanted to do, so less than an hour later each one of them was back! When it was time for the girls to go out, it was even worse. They were given 1 hour of freedom that first day, and within 25 minutes they were all upstairs laying on their beds talking.
After those first steps of freedom, they have really started to figure out what they can and cannot do. They go play with their friends, they go to the local soccer field, or they just go ride their bikes around and they really do like it a lot. But that first taste of freedom was really funny. It was like they were so nervous about messing up or being late that they could not enjoy it, and it was so funny to see them all coming back way earlier than they needed to.