Friday, September 20, 2013

The Ice Cream Project And A Confession

One of the (many) things I love about my church (how many blog posts have I started that way?!) is how we really embrace our children and youth. I think we do a good job of including them in church as individuals and not just as a part of their families. One of the ways we do this is through the youth-mentor program. When a youth turns twelve, together with their parents, they choose some adults in the church they want to be paired with. Then the youth-mentor coordinators take all that information and pair people up. The idea is that it gives youth another adult in the church to connect with. And this relationship lasts until the youth has graduated from high school (and beyond if they want!).

Here's the thing: while I think this program is great, I'm kind of scared of the teenage years. Give me a child who is a toddler, a young child, heading into pre-teens and I shine. I am fun! I am confident! I am awesome! This is why I was a nanny for so many years. (Exception: When it comes to my own kids I am often frustrated and question my every decision. I think that's the definition of "parenting.") When it comes to teens though, I feel I am on slightly shaky ground. I really dread the teenage years with my kids. I think every adult has their "boggy ground age" with kids and my age is definitely the teen years. I keep repeating to myself the mantra a friend shared with me that "you grow up with your kids" so that by the time they are teenagers you (mostly) know how to handle them. (About ten years ago, a group of us was sitting around and talking about our favourite stages of being with kids. We determined that between the four of us we could successfully raise children as long as they didn't mind moving around to different adults as they reached different ages! Now I just need to remember who was excited about the teen years. Ha ha ha!!!)

However, I was a youth mentor before to an amazing youth named Vanessa. While Vanessa was in Grades 7 & 8 we hung out and had a lot of fun together. Then Dave and I moved to Edmonton, but Vanessa and I stayed in touch while I was gone. We moved back to KW last spring on a Saturday and that Sunday I was honoured to stand up and be Vanessa's advocate as she was baptized and became a member at our church. I still stay in touch with Vanessa even though she is at university (how is she old enough for that already?!?!) and I really enjoy spending time with her.

This year I was asked to be a mentor for another girl who is just starting Grade 7. (This youth is also amazing, by the way!) Last night we went out for our first meeting. We talked, laughed, walked and ate frozen yogurt. And we invented The Ice Cream Project. We have decided that we are going to eat at as many ice cream places in KW (and surrounding area) as we can and then we are going to rate them. So at some point in the future, we will have determined where we can find the absolute best ice cream/frozen yogurt in our area and then we will declare the official ice cream/frozen yogurt place of our mentoring relationship. I think it's going to be fun. And tasty. And I'm really looking forward to it and to spending more time with my youth. (Sometimes I think of my youth as "my mentee" but that just sounds weird so mostly I refer to them as "my youth," which also sounds weird.) We are also going to do other things like volunteering the nursery and going rock climbing but The Ice Cream Project is the one we're really excited about :)

How does your church/community of faith include youth and, if you have one, what is your "boggy ground age"?


  1. What an awesome program! I love that idea of giving students a non-parental adult to bond with. I can see so much good coming from that. And of course I REALLY love your excellent plan about democratically judging all ice cream places! I can't think of a worthier cause to devote your time together to!!

  2. What a wonderful idea to connect generations! A church we used to go to arranged Sunday school classes by zip code (is that just a U.S. thing?--geographical location), and that was a neat way to bridge some of those age-imposed divides.
    When I was a school librarian, I found the teenage years difficult too (completely different than I had imagined), but, now that my niece and nephew are teens, I'm rediscovering the fun that season can bring! Two thumbs up on using ice cream to work with that boggy age. :)

  3. What an awesome program! I love your idea of trying out different ice cream places! How fun! And yes, the teenage years scare me too! But, I'm sure we will figure them out when we get there.

  4. Yes...I am TERRIFIED also of the teenage years. And yes...I could tackle an ENTIRE class of 25 seven year olds one-handed (while asking the helpers to go do unnecessary errands so I could get them out of the room....I have control issues, apparently ;)....and yet get frustrated with TWO of my own children and half the time don't know what to do! (That was probably most likely a run-on sentence). Love the mentoring idea! Sometimes it seems teens might relate more to another grownup than their parents just because. Amy

  5. Oh, I think you will do just fine with teenagers! You have such a caring and kind heart, and I am sure they feel very comfortable with you. I am worried about the teen years for my kids too, but I just pray God will help us get through it. I think the ice cream project sounds like the most fun...and so yummy too! Eat some for me...I like mint chocolate chip and most any other flavor too! :-)


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