Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Save the One That's Drownin'.....

That's been our philosophy on raising kids. Whoever happens to be 2, or 13, or in love for the first time, or just got their first speeding ticket, or flunked their first test, or got dumped for the first time, or can't figure out their major in college, or had a first baby, or a first budget that works on paper but not in real life, or or or -

I don't know where Don and I ever heard it, but "Save the One That's Drownin", referring to reaching out with a helping hand to your kids - that's something that's worked for us.

We don't try to be 'fair', because of the three kids we got, none of them are alike. They have very different personalities, gifts, etc. One lives on a spread with goats and chickens and lots of kids and is 1200 miles away, the next is 1 mile away, just bought an old house and the very next day pretty much gutted it, and the last one also lives 1200 miles away and lives in a high rise in the smack dab middle of downtown Dallas. Fair didn't work when they were little, or teenagers, and it still doesn't even when they're grown. So we do whatever needs to be done, give whatever is needed at the moment, and don't keep track or measure who got what.

Right now 'middle kid' Leslie and her husband and toddler are renovating a 60 year old house so they can move in. It's been sitting vacant for about two years, and needs a lot of love. They've pooled a team consisting about 99% of family members, who come and help when they can, in any way they can. If you show up, they'll give you a job!

This past weekend we spent Easter Sunday eating deli fried chicken in the middle of what will be Landon's bedroom, on paper plates, then we spent the rest of the day outside. Leslie and I raked while Don dug flowerbeds and Jeremy cleaned out the shed. Landon helped by picking dandelions and riding the tractor with his Daddy. Yesterday Leslie and I painted the upstairs bedroom #2, while Jeremy hung shutters. Today she continued painting while I steamed wallpaper off the bathroom walls. Tomorrow I should get the rest of the wallpaper down and Jeremy's brother, Alan (who is the contractor extraordinare of this whole project), is going to teach me how to apply a 'skim coat' of plaster to walls! Friday mulch arrives and we'll be digging all around the yard to find perennial flowers we can transplant, to stretch the budget.

And on it goes. Right now I don't have a lot of time for long chats with the other two 'kids'. But that's okay. They know eventually they'll have a project or something will pop up, and we'll come alongside to help in whatever way we can. And then Leslie will get the shaft for awhile. And she'll be fine with that.

All you parents out there with a houseful of little ones, take heart. They grow up, and they still need you, but in entirely different ways. Actually they don't so much NEED you. They allow you to still be involved in their lives. They could absolutely figure it out without your help, but hopefully they still ask for that helping hand now and then, and hopefully you still say yes. Being asked at all is a blessing that makes it completely worth how sore I am when I go to bed at night. Besides that, we'll be moving ourselves sometime in the near future and these great kids we raised will all come alongside us, reach out helping hands to save us while we feel like we're the ones doing the drownin'. THAT'S when you know the 'kids' turned out great!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. I am lucky to be part of the same kind of family that pulls together for the one with the greatest need at the moment.

Even if it's not all "fair" at the end, we have been able to spend many happy days working together and we wouldn't trade anything for the sore muscles we have endured!

Rachel Langston

Becky said...

Oh my goodness, this was just the best. It totally reminded me of something ... oh, what IS her name ... you know who I mean. She died of cancer WAY TOO YOUNG and she wrote the BEST stuff about family and kids and marriage and life in general. She was hilarious, and well-loved, and so stinkin' RIGHT about everything.

Barb is a huge fan I recall. But I can't recall her name. I think it starts with an E. For some reason.

Anyway ... someone once asked her if she loved any of her kids more than the others. And she said "yes, I love the one that flunked their math test, the one that skinned her knee, the one who ..." whatever.

What she meant is exactly what you said. Our kids need us differently. And we respond in kind. All their lives. And it is or great pleasure and joy.

I've always thought how very wrong it is to treat our kids equally. They aren't the same. Our relationship with each is so different.

So well said.

Barb said...

Oh, this is so true. Trying to keep score is a waste of time. You just jump in when you're needed, and help the one that needs help. And it's awfully nice when they return the favor.

It's what family is all about. Families don't keep score. Except in pinochle. :-)

Barb said...

Erma Bombeck, Becky. My hero. LOL

Becky said...


Take heart, I can't even remember my kids names sometimes. And this is funny ... I called my Butler, whose name is Jerry, GREG for the first 20 years of our marriage. That is my brother's name.

He finally said to me, "You've officially lived with me longer than you lived with Greg so get over it."

Karen said...

This post is so "Bev", as in beautifully written and full of heart. I love having a glimpse into the future of grownup kids. I have always thought, as my kids are growing, that THIS is the best stage so far. . . whatever ages they've been. It's nice to know that will continue. Thanks, Bev.

Gretchen said...

This touched my heart in so many ways, Bev.

We're building on this with our kids, I hope.

I do think we miss something when trying to make life fair. God's not fair (thankfully, btw), and each person has her different story. Loving constantly, giving what you can when you can...I do believe it all comes out in the wash if you do that. And clearly, you do.

Robin said...

Great words of wisdom Bev! Your words described it perfectly and I love the motto: "Save the one that's drownin'.
It's good to still be needed as parents of adult kids - the truth probably is - we need them more than they need us - but it all works out togehter doesn't it?

smcvicker said...

thanks for this perspective, we have a new married daughter with a 4 month old and we seem to be in the mist of lending a helping hand alot, this helps me put these times in perspective!

Renna said...

That would make an excellent chapter in a parenting book, Bev-an interesting parenting book, not a dull one!

Paulette said...

amen and amen, this is what family is all about! Your kid's are all very fortunate to have ya'll for parents, and what I can see about each of your kid's they are blessings to ya'll as well. I love being able to come here and read about your lives!

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.