Lowell and I attended a training yesterday called "Life as a Family." The idea is for us as family teachers to visit with other family teachers about our experiences thus far in the family teaching model and collaborate on how we can merge our family with the people we serve, while at the same time maintaining our own nuclear family as a priority.
The whole training got me thinking a lot about what family is, and what it is not. I actually looked up the word "family" in the dictionary and found several definitions - family, extended family, blended family, etc. and after scrolling through them all, I found two that seemed to sum up what we have here - 1) a group of individuals living under one roof, and 2) a unit of a crime syndicate. We technically all live under one roof, and the police know our home well.
Other than that, I think we may have a ways to go before we can fit the definition of family that most people have. Of course, that is our vision, but we cannot ignore the obvious stumbling blocks. Here are the top three we jotted down in the course of our training day:
1. We cannot have a family style meal. Not that we haven't tried, and not that it wouldn't be nice someday, but here is an example of what happens when we try. A few nights ago, one of the guys and I were whipping up some Hamburger Helper. The other guy, who considers himself the resident chef, came in while the food was simmering and we were kicking back with Andy Griffith. When we returned to the kitchen, Emeril was adding his own ingredients to the pot on the stove. The guy originally helping me cook looks at the food, screams "Oh nasty, I'm gonna throw up!" and then asks for some oatmeal. After I looked at the food, I couldn't disagree and oatmeal it was. Another hindrance to meals together as a family is the fact that we only have two chairs and there are five of us. And often, these two chairs are stored in the garage to keep them from being thrown across the room.
2. We cannot ride in the van together. We do have a large van but you will never see all of us in it together. Everybody wants to ride shotgun. Tempers flare when everybody can't. It's much easier to make separate trips. Lowell is a little gunshy driving with Mr. "I like to tear off the rearview mirror and jump into the street" and since he does do better with me and he often gets edgy when Lowell rides along, I usually take him to get his pop or to drive around. However, if we think by the look in his eye that we might be getting ready to have an incident, Lowell comes along and hides in the back of the van. It makes both me and him feel a tad more secure just to know we aren't alone if something happens. The lady teaching our class said it was a great idea, not to feel like we need to hide the fact that he is hiding. We responded that we are just waiting for the day that someone sees him hiding and calls the police. That'll be a fun one!
3. Sometimes just seeing each other causes problems. Mr. Pop Guy has a difficult time being in the same room as the chef. One day, our chef was making sausage gravy and biscuits. At least that's what he said it was. The biscuits looked like huge sugar cookies and the gravy looked more like mashed potatoes - really chunky mashed potatoes. Breakfast is just about ready when it starts getting thrown around the kitchen. I bet he picked up the skillet of gravy five times and tossed it. The truly amazing thing was how much gravy stayed in the skillet. It was rather thick. However, a whole lot of it was covering the kitchen. There was gravy on the walls, on the doors, and all over the ceiling. The table was overturned, the tv was down, and the yelling was intense. Joshua and I hustled back over to our side of the house and watched from the half door. At one point, a bunch of bananas were thrown at us. Joshua cracked me up as he bent over, picked one up, peeled it and started eating as he watched the action on the other side of the door continue.
As we were scraping gravy off of the ceiling later, we laughed about the fact that this was not even one of the top ten strangest things we had done in this job.
There were more but those topped the list. That being said, we do feel like we are making some progress in the relationship-building aspect of this job. We are getting to know these two and they are getting more comfortable with us. However, today we did meet the lady who will be moving in to the spare room in a couple of weeks. I can tell you right now it's going to rock our world once more. But, rest assured, I will have plenty of material to blog about.