Life With Nine Kids

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Fun, KOV, Siblings, Ketchup, Doing Good

 The kids look forward to this week all year long. This is our third year at this very special VBS. It's a high energy, fast paced time of competition, biblical learning, field trips, team building, and fun. I had no idea what an experience it was until family night rolled around the first year. Family night is filled with energy, excitement, competition, dessert, prayer, an amazing slide show of the week, and a walk through (literally) of what they experienced camp that week. I realized quickly that this wasn't just a VBS. I couldn't believe how much activity and leadership could all be packed into a week. (So many activities: Bowling, sports, crafts, ropes course, water games, sponge wars, silliness, swimming, and a ton more!!) After their first week of camp in 2011 it was all they could talk about for a long time. They could not wait until the next year. Charlotte's been a teen leader since we started going, this is Sage and Ethan's first year of teen leadership, and this is Layla's second year as a camper. Besides fun focus is on being kind and helpful to others, to Do Good, and to put God first, others second, and yourself third. It's encouraged to have team spirit in the form of hair color spray, face paint, Etc., and for this you get extra points for your team. (Spirit points!) Charlotte painted her nails her team color in the car, I can’t believe I let her.
Our very first year I heard the dean saying “do good” to the children; I also saw him say it on Facebook and in camp letters, too. That is something we have been telling our kids for years; be kind and don’t just be good…do good! I liked him right away for that and other reasons.
Back to family night: I was stunned at the excitement and fun! The chants, songs, and cheers that came from all the kids were instrumental in team building. For two years in a row our kids' voices were hoarse after day two, nearly gone at day four and seriously gone by the end of family night. Screaming, cheering and showing enthusiasm is part of the whole experience! Even the kids that are reserved at first seem to warm up to the idea that this is a time to really let loose and be part of something good. The kids really feel part of something bigger than themselves, and why wouldn't they with the faith and character building exercises they get to be a part of. 
From the very beginning I was absolutely thrilled that all ages were mixed together on teams. This was a welcome surprise. The big kids help the little kids and the teen leaders are instrumental in creating balance, enthusiasm and fun.
Our home life works the same way...we help each other. There is no choice, it's just the way it is. It's expected, it's healthy, and it’s natural. 
Habitually segregating children by age is a huge pet peeve of mine (and is of many homeschooling families). We have so much to learn from each other. In a society where children are constantly pushed aside and treated as inconveniences, it's super important to teach kids of all ages how to interact with people younger than them. I can't tell you how often I see other siblings treating each other horribly; hitting each other, telling each other to shut up, refusing to help one another. I think it's a real problem and I think it's very sad. I've recently seen it in a public school setting, the park, and the grocery store. I saw a 12 year old boy literally shove his little six year old sister in the grocery store. I saw a 10 year old boy scare his little six year old brother in the grocery store by purposefully hiding so the six year old would think he was lost. It's gross. Kids and teens need adult supervision, guidance, role models (in the community and at home), and they need to understand how respect works.

That first year, after driving the kids for a week back and forth to the church, I hadn't expected a family night event to close out the week. It wasn't a convenient night for us so I told the kids I wasn't sure if we were going. They explained to me that it was super important they go and that the winning team was going to be announced. Clearly we couldn't miss that. So off we went with their exhausted and reluctant dad who had worked late all week, and I with a baby and toddler glued to me. We found ourselves in a packed church with hundreds of kids who lit the place up, all full of life and hearts full of love. They had bonded together and they were really, really having fun together, even with the adults.

Parents got to meet and interact with the amazing staff and leaders and we got a real sense of what an amazing positive experience our kids got to be a part of. 

On the way to the first day of the third year of camp this morning I looked at my four oldest kids in the car and they were beaming. Smiles ear to ear, chattering about the things they were looking forward to. Charlotte talked about campers from last year, a little girl named Charlotte was on her team last year and she hoped to see her again. The kids spoke of other kids, teen leaders, interns, staff, and the Dean; all of whom that made lasting impressions on them in different ways.
When I picked them all up they were happy and we talked about who was on what team. They asked me for face paint so I stopped at Wal-Mart and took everybody in…all  nine of us, what a sight to see. I held baby Beatrice (5 weeks old) and Charlotte pushed Sebastian (4) and Everett (2) in a cart. We picked out beads, hair spray and face paint in the colors that we needed. (orange, purple, blue) I remembered we needed dog food so we went to the pet section. Of course we had to stop and see the fish. Then I spotted some Betta fish and thought what a fun close to the day it would be if we got a fish. So we got a fish…and a fish bowl. Then Charlotte reminded me we needed to feed it (I laughed because I had not considered that). So she picked out food and treats for the fish. (Fish treats!?) We chattered rather loudly about what to name it as we also picked out fake plants for it to hide behind. It's a bright red fish so Layla liked the name fire. Charlotte suggested Roy. I announced that we can all call it different names like we have done with our cats in the past, "Since it doesn't answer to its name we can all name it something different if we want." Everyone agreed to that. Sebastian became less interested and ran away because he got upset; I wouldn't let him buy something with the 35 cents he was carrying around. I told him gently that this wasn't the dollar store and he took it really hard and was angry, so he ran away. Sage, Ethan, and Layla went after him four isles over and when I finally caught up he came willingly back to the fish isle but was still cranky.
People in the store probably thought we were NUTS. But it's the fun kind of nuts, at least we think so. Everett's face was covered in dirt and strawberries from the day. Sebastian had no shoes on. We looked wild, we were post KOV excitement, and we were probably a little louder than I remember. We checked out and I decided to take the kids to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries for dinner. Ricky and I wanted to take them there for a long time as a special outing. (It's a fat chunk of money to take everyone there!) While nursing the baby in the parking lot and trying to write down everyone's order on a piece of paper somebody let Everett out of his car seat and he climbed on the van dash and laid down. Then he harassed me until I yelled that we were going to go home if he didn't stop being insane. Under my breath I said, "I have lost control. I am defeated." Somehow I finally felt brave enough to get everyone out of the van and we went in. People stared. I guess they never saw a woman, 8 kids, and a betta fish walk into a restaurant before. My reinforcement (AKA the love of my life) showed up and the kids promptly greeted him and exclaimed, “WE GOT A FISH!” The fish sat in its plastic cup on our table while we ate outside in the beautiful 75 degree weather. The kiddos all said what I thought they would about 5 Guys ... best burger they've ever had!
The kids all named their Betta fish Ketchup as we inhaled hot, fresh french fries dipped in ketchup.
Okay so this is a body double pic, but I don't have time to take a picture of the real Ketchup right now and this post is better with a picture of a fish!

7/30/13 and 7/31/13
This morning on the way to camp we had an uproarious time of songs, silliness, jokes and laughter. Layla said the car ride is more fun than camp. I took that as a high compliment knowing what I was contending with. We make up words (like blob-sticle-course ...don’t ask) and laugh at each other. I’m not sure what I said but Charlotte cracked up at something goofy I got wrong or said wrong. I told her I was going to crash if we kept laughing. I love that we all sing in the car together. Somehow, for some weird reason, we took turns fake sneezing how we think Micheal Jackson would sound like sneezing. I don't know how we think of this stuff. 
 We recently had a 20 minute conversation about mean people, people who bully, kids learning meanness from adults, celebrities being shamed and bullied, and also body shaming and fat shaming in our society and how wrong it is. 

I just love our time together!

1 comment:

Pink Slippers said...

fun post!

mommy to 10. 13 and under.