We are taking this week to clarify our expectations. Josh and Jameson's expectations of America. Our expectations of Josh and Jameson. As usual, God is giving us plenty of opportunities to do this.
Last night at church we had a "baby" shower for Isabel's house. Isabel's house is a crisis nursery in our community which serves as a safe house for children ages 1-12. The children are allowed to stay up to 1 month during the year if they are in an unsafe environment, parents are unavailable or ill, or they have no extended family to care for them. It is meant to be an answer to emergency situations where parents can leave their children, no questions asked, without fear of losing them to foster care etc.
The children who go to Isabel's house receive a pair of shoes, a pair of PJ's, a new outfit and a toy. In order to have these items, Isabel's house depends on donations. As I was trying to explain why we were taking these new items wrapped as a gift, I could sense that all the children were confused. I went on to explain that there are children whose parents can't or don't take good care of them. There are children in this city who do not have enough to eat, clothes to wear, toys to play with, or a safe environment in which to live.
Jameson looked right at me as if I were insane and said, "There are no orphans in America. There are no poor people in America. There are no children who need things in America. I am orphan. I need those things." WOW.
So what a great opportunity to tell her that she is not the only one in the world who has been poor. She unfortunately is not the only one who has lost parents. She is not the only one to have lived in an orphanage. I explained to her that there are children ALL over the world, ALL over America, ALL over this city who have had bad things happen in their lives. I tried to explain to her that being an orphan or being from Africa is NOT what makes her special. The fact that she is one of God's children is what makes her special. And that's what makes all of us special.
Now readers, please don't get me wrong. I know she has had a rough life. I realize she has experienced loss beyond anything I have ever experienced. However, I want that fact to make her more compassionate. I have always felt that when people go through terrible things, there are two ways they can use it. They can use it as a way to help others or they can use it as a crutch. They can focus that pain and life experience into something positive, or they can feel they are owed something from society. This is what I want from all of my children. I want them to make a difference for someone else. I want them to dream big and work hard. Yes, both Josh and Jameson have difficult things to overcome, but I believe they can channel that pain into something good. Does that make sense? I feel it is my duty as a parent to teach them this.
Ironically, I found Laurel's blog about entitlement versus appreciation, and it really hit home with me. You can read it here. Check it out. I find the comment about the Russian orphans who believe they shouldn't have to wait in line at the post office especially interesting.