Today we made a trip to that really big nationwide discount department store. That normally would be no big deal and is something that houseparents all over the country do on a regular basis, however we decided to take all the children with us while we did our shopping. The children in our cottage range in age from 4 to 11 so you can only imagine what it was like with their whole focus on trying to get us to buy stuff they wanted and visit the departments they find most enjoyable.
Thinking back to my early days of houseparenting is wasn’t any more fun to do the trip with teenagers. I remember walking into the store with our kids and the first words you hear over the PA system is something like, “All departments on zone defense” which meant, “Here come the group home kids, make sure they don’t shoplift.” The easy thing to do would be to just leave the kids at home with your spouse and avoid all the hassles of taking them to a public place. That is the choice we usually make, but I have to ask, “If you never take your kids out into public, how will they ever learn how to behave in public?”
Our kids weren’t perfect but they are one step closer to knowing that you can go to the store without getting everything you ask for, that you are expected to behave in public places, and that things don’t just come from the kitchen or supply room. In a few weeks we will recover from this trip and do it again so that they can learn even more.
We should all remember that the easiest way of doing things isn’t always the best way, especially when it deprives the children in our care an opportunity to learn.