Acting their age
Our family spent the last week of August volunteering at a summer camp, something we do two or three times a year.
My kids are far too young to be campers, but they participate in most of the program anyway, and they can be far more independent at camp, especially the older two. They know almost everyone there. They don’t have to worry about roads and traffic. They can join some sort of activity almost any time they want. They have their food made for them by the kitchen staff. All of which means that they don’t need to rely on me nearly as much to do things with them and to take them places and to provide their basic needs, so I had several chances during the week just to watch them.
It was interesting to see how they behaved when they didn’t know I was watching. They sometimes played up to the older kids, which was not always positive, but sometimes they also acted with much greater maturity because they realized how unimpressed the teenagers would be with any crying and whining. They were more adult, more patient, more polite.
The experience reminded me of how vulnerable children can be to social pressure, even at a young age, but it also showed me how much more independent and mature my kids are capable of being when given the opportunity. It has encouraged me to expect more maturity from them and to allow them greater responsibility, even if they still sometimes end up acting their age.
Luke is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged eight, six, and two. He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university. He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.