I was making a bee-line for the end of the aisle in Walmart when I heard my name. I stopped to refocus on the face looking down at me.
“Sorry,” I apologized, nodding to the kids behind my cart, “we’re almost finished and I am just focused on the goal.”
Our Minnesota governor just recently lost his emergency powers, after a promise to beef up medical facilities in 30 days turned into a 16 month state of emergency. Most masks have disappeared and people are beginning to relax and smile more. After nearly a year and a half of shopping mostly by myself, I am finally taking all of the kids to town with me. It’s way more work than I remembered. It was always more time consuming to bring kids along, but it was time together and there were always practical lessons in teaching them how to spot the best deal, how to guesstimate the total cost, and a lot of other little things, not the least of which was manners.
I didn’t realize how much training my children had received until we headed back into town as a troop and I noticed how much training has been lost. Just things like “Please don’t ask for stuff, don’t touch things that are not ours, get out of the van quickly, stay on one side of the shopping aisle (out of the way of other shoppers), stay with me, tell people thank you…” Oie. The list of things they have forgotten seems long, but maybe part of it is that the younger children just never got to learn what would have normally been taught. They’ll catch on quickly; they already are.
We are seeing more serious situations than these personal examples as we are in the thick of summer youth camp ministry at the Christian camp where we serve. Reports are coming back from other camps of sending kids home because they can’t “be managed.” My own young adults are counselors and helpers in cabins and they told me about the little 1st and 2nd graders who are overcome with emotion when they don’t get their way and beat on their counselors when they are frustrated. “They’re mean!” my sixteen year old exclaimed.
My husband, ever the wise one around here, just laid it out when I mentioned my concern. “We’ve locked them up for almost a year and a half. Many of them are living in difficult situations. What do you expect?” And he is right. I see adults who have forgotten how to be sensitive to others and are demanding in public places. What have we taught the younger generation by example? Every age group presents different challenges as we minister at camp, but the stress of the past couple of years is evident in many ways.
So today, I invite you to pray for your country, your leaders, and the parents and children you know. Pray for their adjustment as we navigate these changing times and figure out what ‘normal’ looks like. Pray for emotional healing, for adults who set proper examples and who will lovingly teach our children how to express themselves in healthy ways. Pray for follow through. Sometimes that is the hardest part of being the adult. We need firm boundaries, gentle explanations, and encouraging reminders for all!