Most of you have probably seen the long-running public service announcements on television where a local or national celebrity says some variation of, “It’s 10:00 PM. Do you know where your children are and whom they are with?” There was another commercial that ran many years ago that talked about being a “Kool-Aid mom.” Its premise was that everyone wanted to hang out at the house that served Kool-Aid.
These totally unrelated ads remind me of a decision Amy and I made early on involving our children. Though we stumbled onto it inadvertently, it helped us follow the Biblical principles of hospitality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not boasting or patting ourselves on the backs, as our motives at the time were mostly selfish. You see, we figured out that if we welcomed our kids’ friends into our home, then we would have much better control over their whereabouts. And to be clear, most of the burden for “our” hospitality fell on Amy, as I was not home as much as she, thus the title of this blog.
Another positive by-product was that we not only knew whom our children were with, but also got to know their friends. And since we knew their friends, it made us less worried when our kids went places with them. This initially self-serving decision has brought countless blessings into our lives, as literally hundreds of children have crossed our doorstep over the years. Somewhere along the way we grew to love opening our home to others.
This was not without its pitfalls. It can get expensive (and noisy!) providing snacks and drinks for an entire neighborhood of children, and forget about that spotless and perfect home we always dreamed of! Seeing our yard makes me think of a story I once heard attributed to Harmon Killebrew, the famous baseball slugger who played primarily for the Minnesota Twins. When he was a young boy, after a particularly rowdy day of fun with his dad and brother on their lawn, his mother exclaimed, “You boys are tearing up the grass!” Harmon’s dad replied, “We’re not raising grass, we’re raising boys!” These wise words help a little, but I must admit I sometimes covet my neighbor up the street who has AstroTurf-looking grass!
I recall a summer day in the late 1980’s when our two oldest daughters were about 8 and 7 years old. There must have been 10 kids in our house and Amy sent them to the back yard and gave every one of them a chocolate fudge bar. Their friend Eric was not licking fast enough to keep up with the sweltering temperature and was soon covered from fingers to elbows in melted ice cream. As a typical little boy, he started using his tongue to clean up the mess, oblivious to the visible dirt on his skin. Amy shrieked, “Eric, you’re swallowing every germ in the world!” Without missing a lick (pardon the pun!), he looked up and in total innocence and with no sarcasm whatsoever said, “Even China germs?” Classic.
If you want to know where your kids are and whom they are with, be a Kool-Aid mom (or dad). Someday, you might even find yourself longing for those days after your children have grown up and moved away. And you never know, you might just get a blessing or be a blessing.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).