02 Oct Barefoot in Home Depot
A few weeks ago, some volunteers came to help us (VTC) move one of our Associates into a new apartment. My husband Brad was helping out and couldn’t be at home for the normal school night routine, so we just made it a family affair and the kids came with us!
They were awesome. They knew exactly why we were there – to love one of my Associates (who happens to be a single mom without a car) by helping her move to her new home. They walked in and started sweeping, scrubbing baseboards and cleaning windows without a hint of complaint (mind you, they’re 10, 7 and 5, so this is pretty incredible). They did tire out after a while, but entertained themselves in the “lawn” (read…big open area with dirt and rocks) of the apartment complex where all the other neighbor kids came out to join them.
When we wrapped up, I had to return the moving truck, so my daughter rode with me. Being the responsible parent that I am, I started asking her if she learned anything about life that afternoon and she said, “Yeah. We’re REALLY spoiled.” I kept driving, content that maybe we could survive the evening without complaining. Then she yelled, “STOP THE TRUCK!!” What?! “STOP THE TRUCK!! That girl doesn’t have shoes!” It was true. She was adorable. She was walking home from a program at the Center where our office is and she had on a school uniform, her backpack and NO shoes. Honest truth: I thought, “Oh how sad,” and kept driving. Because I was hot and tired and dirty and wanted to get home and shower and bathe the kids and do story time and get them in bed and it was already late and I was DONE serving for the day. And for Pete’s sake, we were behind schedule already!! (Don’t judge…we’ve all been there)
“STOP THE CAR OR I’M JUMPING OUT!” and she put her hand on the handle. She’s usually not that dramatic (well…she’s pretty dramatic), but she’s compassionate to a fault, so I decided to take her seriously. I told her to sit down and I turned the truck around and we drove up beside the girl. I rolled down the window and my daughter asked her if she had shoes. She said no and sweet Campbell took her shoes off right there, jumped out of the car and went over and handed them to her. She introduced herself and asked if they fit.
Y’all I thought my heart was gonna explode right there in the cab of a rented moving truck. It was precious. We said goodbye, Campbell hopped back in the truck and we took it back to Home Depot…with Campbell wearing only socks. People looked at her like we were crazy – really, they more looked at me like I was a really bad parent – and I didn’t care one bit. I knew every ounce of dirt on her body and every missed moment of sleep that night was worth it.
My kids learned some good lessons that night. I think I learned even more.
Lesson 1: Serving almost always causes a disruption to the system. But it almost always has a bigger payoff than the seamlessness of a system. Don’t let your “schedule” get in the way of opportunities to serve.
Lesson 2: Kids are color blind, language blind, culture blind and speak the universal language of play. Choosing to have them play, go to school and do sports in the isolation of homogeny may be doing more harm than good. Challenge: How can you get outside your comfort zone and introduce your kids (and you) to some diversity?
Lesson 3: My kids don’t die if they play in a “yard” of dirt with only rocks and bottle caps as toys with kids who don’t speak their language. They just get dirty. Solution: take them home to our nice house with nice bathrooms and bathe them in one of the two bathtubs we have available. Simple as that. They would get just as dirty playing at home and have none of the cultural experience.
Lesson 4: Sometimes our kids have more to teach us than we can ever hope to teach them. We just have to be willing to stop and listen. If I had insisted on my way in that truck, not only would I have missed a lesson, but Campbell would have missed the joy of caring for someone in a selfless way.
How are you teaching your kids to love the people in your city? What keeps you from getting involved?
Okay, so she wasn’t totally barefoot, but you wouldn’t have been as interested in reading this if I’d said “Walking around in only her socks in Home Depot.” 🙂