Over the last two evenings, we have taken two groups of older kids out on special outings. These have been fun and very meaningful times with kids, some of whom I didn't get a chance to know or spend time with on my first trip.
On Friday, we took a group of 13 older kids out to see Eclipse. It wasn't my first choice for a movie, but the kids really wanted to see it (and it didn't turn out to be so bad.) More important than our movie choice was the experience of being out in the world, at the movies with such incredible, kind, thoughtful children. They were polite, respectful, and grateful to be sharing in this experience with us and one another. There was no begging, whining, bickering, complaining, or anything of that nature, which I am accustomed to when I have taken large (or small) groups of children out in public in the US. It was really a fun time and felt like a privilege for me to get to know some different kids in a new way than I had been able to get to know before.
Similarly, yesterday, Jen, Matthew, and I took a group of three of the oldest youth, ages 16, 17, and 20, (who were staying at the Casa over the weekend) out for dinner. We decided to go to an Italian restaurant that we had seen driving into town. None of them had had Italian food before. It was amazing and SO much fun. They were also incredibly polite, grateful, and respectful. We were able to relax and joke around with one another in a way that we couldn't do if we were responsible for a large group of children, which is what they are used to experiencing--being the oldest and the ones responsible for helping to care for the younger ones. It is a treat for just them to get out and enjoy themselves. We ate and talked and ate and talked for hours and returned to the house glowing. It gives me such joy to be in the presence of such impressive young people.