We have some dear older neighbors down the road, who don't get out much during the winter months due to illness, and snow. Last week we brought them a pan of fresh homemade cinnamon rolls, hot from our oven. In return, they grabbed the candy bowl from their coffee table that was halfway full of M&M's, and gave it to my husband, despite his protests. They're from that generation of folks that always wants to give something in return for kindness. It's tough to bless them, because no matter whether it's shoveling their driveway, raking pine needles, or mowing their yard, they find something from their house for us to take home. It can be pretty awkward.
They gave us a call this week to thank us for the dessert and ask for the recipe. They LOVE my children, so I decided to send them on an errand down the road to return the candy bowl, and give them a copy of the cinnamon roll recipe. Before the kids left, I combed their hair, made sure that their clothes matched, and gave them no less than 20 directions and orders. My instructions included, but were not limited to the following things:
"Look both ways before you cross the road."
"Hold hands with your sister."
"Don't crinkle the recipe."
"Hold the glass bowl with TWO hands!"
"Say, "Thank you" for the M & M's."
"Speak loud enough for them to hear you because they don't hear well."
"Look them in the eyes."
"Say, 'Hello Mr. and Mrs. ________'."
"Say 'please' and 'thank you' if they offer you a drink."
"Don't run down their driveway."
"Stay out of their yard."
That's when it suddenly hit me like a rock. I've turned into my mother!!! I remember when I was a kid, my mom would have us deliver Christmas gifts to all of the neighbors. In addition to safety rules, she had my brother and I ring the doorbell and when the neighbors answered the door, we were to say the following thing in unison: "Merry Christmas from the __________'s." You can imagine how excited my little brother was to do this. Not. I carried the baked goods, and he carried the small potted pine tree saplings, and we trudged down the driveway to start our deliveries.
[They answer the door] "Why hello little ones!"
We choke out the rehearsed greeting completely out of unison, "Merry Christmas from the ________'s."
Then we hand over the goods, turn and sprint through their yard until we reach home.
I don't know why I've always remembered this, but now that I have kids of my own, it terrifies me to think that they may be the same way that I was.
So I watched them walk down the road from the front window of my living room. I was checking to see if they followed my instructions. So far, so good.
After they were out of sight, I waited. And waited. And waited. They were gone over ten minutes. I started to worry, but then I saw them sprinting down the road towards home.
When they walked in the front door, I started peppering them with questions:
"Were you kind?"
"Did you say thank you?"
"Did you speak loud enough for them to hear?"
Then I asked them to tell me the EXACT conversation they had with them.
Because, after Wednesday night's embarrassing moment with my youngest, I'm acutely aware of the fact that my children's mouths are loaded cannons, ready to spew out random facts and information that may cause me grief, and, or further explanation. Don't you just love kids?
In the end, everything went very well and I considered it to be just one more successful mission under their learning belts. I'm a firm believer that older folks and younger ones really need each other. My kids love doing things for our older neighbors, and my neighbors just adore having a good chat with my kids. I think it's a win-win situation for all.