I made difficult child feed the poor

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TerryJ2, Nov 15, 2008.

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  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Every yr, difficult child and easy child's school have a huge Thanksgiving dinner for poor and homeless people in our worst neighborhood. We begin by donating cans of food, turkeys, and money. After a couple of wks, a committee gets together and figures out how much we have, how much we need to buy, goes out and gets it and they get up early and start cooking.
    The meals are served from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
    The line goes out the door, down the street and there are lots of police keeping things under control.
    Nothing every happens, but that's because it's pretty well organized.

    difficult child went a cpl yrs ago and of course, hated it and refused to cooperate. He didn't even want to go in the bldg.

    It is loud, and I mean LOUD, not just from the voices, but from the gospel music on stage, and the woman singing on top of the piped in music. And its' people, people, people everywhere.

    difficult child wasn't going to get out of the car, and as I was standing there, I was debating whether I should grab a homeless man and tell him that my son was refusing to feed people, and perhaps he could help me out, or whether I should grab a nearby cop and say the same thing. Which would influence difficult child more?
    difficult child must have noticed the expression on my face, and the two steps I took toward the stranger, because he popped out of the car on his own and started toward the door, LOL! (Never underestimate a Warrior Mom!)

    difficult child stuck to me like glue. I think he was scared. He warned me that he remembered the place and it was too loud and crowded, and I commisserated and told him we'd only stay an hr or so.

    We noticed that the people serving food were well organized, so we went straight into the kitchen, which was not organized. I'm not a take-charge person, but this was easy. One woman said a man needed a break from washing dishes, so I put difficult child to work doing that, and then gave some other boys the task of rinsing, and another guy the task of drying. Then I took the newly cleaned serving spoons and had difficult child bring them back out to the chaotic serving line.

    I noticed a timid HS girl volunteer, just standing there with-a pile of napkins in her hands, so I asked for half of them, handed some to difficult child, and started placing them next to people who were eating. Most people had dripped gravy all over and crumpled their napkins and needed new ones so it was an easy task.

    Then I saw people trying to take food home and it was slopping all over the paper plates, so difficult child and I tore off sheets of Saran Wrap and wrapped lots of take-home plates. difficult child didn't want to lean over people and wrap their plates--he really was scared--so he handed me the Saran Wrap and stood behind me while I did it. Everyone was very nice and smiling but it was still intimidating to difficult child. He was way out of his element.

    All you had to do was keep your eyes open and you'd see what needed to be done.

    difficult child begged for a choc brownie and he was being so good, I gave in and let him have one small piece just b4 we left.

    On the way home, he asked all sorts of questions. How can you tell which people are homeless? (The ones who smell, and wear their winter clothes all the time because they don't have suitcases). Does our city govn't and our taxes pay for all this housing? (Public housing, apts.), Yes.
    Do you have to be homeless to eat here?
    Nope. Just poor. And no one checks your tax records, You just walk in and everyone trusts everyone else.
    "This looks like an all black neighborhood." (He's really starting to notice that sort of thing, especially with-Obama as Pres-elect.)
    Yes, it's 98% black. We're in the South. Most of them dropped out of HS.
    "I think they dropped out of 5th grade!" (LOL. He can be clever once in a while.)
    "Why are there metal bars across the store fronts?"
    So people don't break the glass and steal things.
    "Why do they steal things?"
    Because their parents steal and that's the way the kids are raised. It's that kind of a neighborhood.
    "Why are those kids jumping in puddles in the middle of a busy street by themselves? There's no parent with them."


    I love real life education. ;)
  2. Jena

    Jena New Member

    ah, you did a really good thing, helping with the food and serving and teaching difficult child a huge life lesson and broadening his understanding of life.

    I'm planning on doing a soup kitchen for thanksgiving. we are still searching for one to volunteer at, we have yet to locate one. I want difficult child and easy child to learn to give back and help people also.

    Good job Mom:) and I bet he loved that brownie
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I hope you keep doing things like that with him. Kids are so honest with their questions.

    My mom volunteered at Girls Club when I was little. It was in one of the WORST parts of town. She would take my bro and I and we would play while she taught sewing.

    It helped me see poor people as just people, and was a great experience for my bro and I. We learned to appreciate people for who they were and not what they had.

    Your son will learn valuealbe lessons from volunteering at things like this.
  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Good for you and difficult child, too!
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Getting Duckie out of her element is something we struggle with too. She's still a little young to be a real help at a soup kitchen but we look for opportunities to serve wherever we can. Our Sunday School is active, Girl Scouts are as well. And she'll be able to join K-Kids next year at school (they're part of Kiwanis).

    Teaching a child to appreciate what they have and to respect those that don't have as much is always a little tricky. I worry about Duckie making broad generalizations as we live in a very white & pretty affluent community. I don't want her to grow up thinking all blacks are poor or needy because it's just not true. She needs to see people as the individual they are, nothing more or less. We talk about poverty a lot and how fortunate she is. It helps that she knows her mother lived in poverty as a child.

    You did a good thing for difficult child. Hopefully he will begin to feel more comfortable reaching out to others in the future as he has more opportunities to do so. :thumbsup:
  6. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You did good!:)
  7. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    Good for you and difficult child.

    I tried signing up for the soup kitchen and holiday dinner, delivery of food baskets. But the hours for that is day hours and he is in school. Must be 16 too.

    I signed up to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. Waiting on a background check. But I told difficult child I signed HIM up. So he thinks it is him doing this.

    Keep it up.
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Great job for exposing difficult child to those less fortunate! It goes a long way for not only helping others, but also to see that we all have problems to overcome.

    I agree with TM- about being careful not to generalize and pointing out that we are all "people".
  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Terry, I agree you did good. I suspect this experience will stick with difficult child for a very long time.

  10. ML

    ML Guest

    What an awesome experience! Very cool. I'm glad difficult child hung in there and came through with a greater depth of understanding.
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    It never occurred to me that there might be an age limit. I saw other kids his age, but mostly, they were siblings of those who were actual volunteers. Which was our case, as well.
    Luckily, difficult child is tall and no one said anything ... :)

    I am SO glad it worked out the way it did; easy child came home after working her shift for 4 hrs and she got the raw end of the deal. Where difficult child and I saw the best in people, she saw the worst. One woman took an entire plate of perfectly good food, stuck her arm out in front of easy child, and dropped the whole thing, face down, onto the floor. Then she stared at easy child, daring her to pick it up. Of course, easy child smiled nicely and said, "Oops, you dropped something!" and picked it up.
    An older man came up to her and held her hand, entwined his fingers with-hers, and wouldn't let go. She wasn't sure what to do. (I imagined what I would do in such a situation and she did the exact same thing! LOL.) She led him to the serving table, smiled and said, "Happy Thanksgiving!" and extricated her hand from his. She said he didn't serve himself ... he just stood there and stared at her.
    She came away with-the view that we are doing certain people a disservice by feeding them because we are not teaching them any skills. (Give a man a fish ... ) She wants to dbl major in art and education and she said she wants to be a teacher even more, now.

    Yes, in regard to difficult child being mixed race, it is hard to see all these people who happen to be black, and have difficult child grow up thinking it's a black issue. On many occasions I have tried to tell him that in Ireland, you'll see poor white Irish kids, and in India, Indian kids, an in America we do have poor whites, but quite often, there are marginalized groups that stand out in certain areas. I grew up in MN so you could drive by an Indian reservation and see people sitting on the front steps, windows broken, paint chipped, adults drunk ... out West, it tends to be Mexican immigrants.
    But TELLING difficult child isn't the same as having him SEE it, so I may have to take him to a soup kitchen in another part of the country.
    Hmm, not a bad idea ... next time I visit MN I'll get my sister to take us ...
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Terry, out West we don't discriminate. We'll ostracize any group - you don't have to be Mexican! Poor white trash works just fine for us! ;)
  13. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Terry and all, I'm going to lock this thread. While what you did for your son, Terry, should be commended, we don't make it a practice to talk about race here any more than we talk about religion or politics. Thanks for understanding.
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