$20=15 cans of soup / $20=2 free drinks and a bar crawl

173We’re just coming off 4 months of volunteering everyday in our community for hurricane Sandy relief. With our faithful volunteers we spent our days in the distribution center serving our neighbors; listening, helping, finding resources and  filling boxes with supplies for their make shift kitchens. We received $58,000 ($35 from Robin Hood/12-12-12- concert) in donations and then dispensed 100% to families in need.

It was exhausting work as anyone else involved in recovery who we worked with can tell you. The work put our own lives on hold and our 8 kids ‘normal’ was very disrupted. But that disruption was nothing in comparison to what the people we saw everyday were going through.

Back in the beginning of February we saw a real slowing down of volunteers and donations. Which honestly we knew was going to happen. Actually it really happened much sooner, but the surplus of supplies kept us going.

Its the nature of disaster that the initial surge of help lasts only a few short weeks and once people have contributed once or twice they go back to their lives feeling they have done their part.

For our disaster, Christmas became the seal of finality for most people. The push for toys became the frenzy with sheer panic that maybe a child might not have gifts under the tree. Once the holiday was over, the general public who had been so unbelievably generous, considered us taken care of.

So, I thought one morning after doing an inventory of supplies that I would put out on the internet for a creative way to donate. There were over 1000 seeing the posts, so why not tap into the resource? We had the peoples favorites on the list; stove top or microwave cooking items and laundry detergent. (Cleaning up after a flood is messy work.) I asked people to spend an extra $20 at the food store and bring $20 of one item. Simply, direct, and right into the peoples hands.

Only one person came. 

Sad, isn’t it? One person brought us $20 of spaghetti sauce. So Chip did some maneuvering and got in touch with some warehouses that were for 501 3(c) groups and restocked the best he could.

Fast forward to today. There is a buzz everywhere! What a great day! What an exciting opportunity to help! $20 gets you 2 drinks, free food, free transportation and you can drink for FIVE HOURS STRAIGHT! The best part is, the money goes to organizations who are helping people with recovery, its ‘a good cause’.

I don’t mean to sound cynical even though as I type it I know it does. It is great that they are going to raise thousands of dollars! There are hundreds of people going. The money will be divided between the recipients and eventually it will fall in the hands of some local families. They need the money desperately. If they have to wait another 6 weeks or more isn’t such a bad thing. They’re used to waiting.


That same $20 could have fed them 6 weeks ago. Right into their hands. Or a $20 gift card to a home improvement store could have bought them a new hammer or replaced some other flood damaged item.

Whats the big deal? I go back to our kids, because that is our main concern.

Why do we have such early drinkers here? Why do we have so many permissive parents who allow free drinking saying ‘we drank’? No thought of brain development, function or the possibility teen drinking could lead to dangerous decisions or more risk taking behavior.

Is the fundraiser really about relief or is it about the drunken crawl ? If we’re trying to be an example to our kids of charity and kindness, then which of two scenarios teaches it?

The kids are watching; they see the planning of outfits,  baby sitters hired, they hear ‘its for a good cause’. They know the kid in their class still isn’t living in their own home, so they even get excited about the day. But they will also see how their parents will come home at the end of the day. But what they wont see is the actual end result.

They wont see the can of soup go from the shopping cart to the shelf for a senior citizen who just had 50 years worth of memories washed away. They wont hear the conversation in the car as to ‘why’ you are driving to the horrible cold distribution center to drop off the food. They wont see the people meandering around reading labels trying to find something that will fill their bellies while saving them some money as they scrounge to repair their homes.

Think about it, they learn from what we show them, not from what we tell them. If everything we do has to revolve around alcohol, aren’t we are showing them that it is an essential ingredient to being an adult?

Could you imagine it missing from:

Your celebrations

Your fundraisers

Your stress relief

Your reunion with friends

Your grief

Your toddlers birthday

Your teens pre prom party

Your week night dinners

Your weekend dinners

Your post PTO weeknight meetings

Your fundraiser brain storming sessions

Your guys night out

Your girls night out

Your 5k races

Your movie watching

Your sports watching……..

Is helping others only reserved for scouts, or school projects and encapsulated into specific times in life? Or is it a part of who we are?

When you think about what kind of adults you want to see your children become, remember they are ultimately going to repeat what they see and experience.

Which of the two lessons has more impact?

We hope they raise tons of money, and we’re sure they will. And we really hope that the organizations who will be trusted with it will use the money for the families and not self promotion.

Am I saying we should never go to a 2 drink free appetizer fundraiser or that adults should never drink? No I’m not. I’m just saying- Stop, think, reflect.

We wont go to the crawl today. We’ll stay home with our kids, dye Easter eggs add $20 to the pot for the families we are still helping instead.

Different Types of Friends

ImageYesterday I re-posted a great little blog post about friendship from over the summer. Lots of people read it, so it had me thinking that I probably should have shared some of the info we use in our assembly.

We talk all the time with our kids about friendship and the importance of good solid friendships. Quality to us is far better than quantity. Chip and I were going to meet with new friends of YCNBR over Christmas break and had a discussion with Emily in the car about the friends she had in the beginning of high school and the ones she has now at college. The difference is stark, simply based on the quality of people Em chooses to now hang around are more like her own character. She told us about a paper she wrote comparing CS Lewis and Aristotle. How fascinating that no matter what generation we are a part of, people never change.

Chip and I decided that Emily’s experience has been one of her most valuable life lessons so far. We learned the value of good friends ourselves when we had our first child at 19 and 20. Make a very open choice to go against the grain and you quickly see who your real friends are! Our closest friends have shared in the hardest times and greatest joys of our lives.

Our mantra to the kids is ‘you will become who you surround yourself with’. It just makes sense that now with this new crop of friends Emily is happier, encouraged to do good, be good, think of her future and have good old plain fun with no strings attached.

So here’s what we stole from her paper. CS Lewis had kind of cynical view of friendship, he could take it or leave it and didn’t see it as essential to existence. And there are definitely people out there who feel the same way. I do think his argument was a  faith-based one, if you have a strong prayer life and relationship with God, people are secondary.

Friendship has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” 

– C.S. Lewis

But, we feel that humans are born into communities and we need one another to exist and thrive. We know through the study of Russian crib babies and attachment parenting research that people need others to live and grow into healthy adults.  So helping our kids see the difference gives them tools to navigate the difficult process of figuring out who really has your back, and whose just riding the current wave.

We lean towards Aristotle’s definition of friendships, he puts different types of friends into 3 categories of varying degrees.

A friendship of UTILITY is one that can be easily dissolved. Either you were using the friend for convenience, notoriety, free rides to school or a full refrigerator in some cases! Or maybe the friend was using you, they kind of latched on and flattered you making you think that they were really concerned for your well-being when really, it was just convenience . These types of friendships can be hurtful when one considers the other a close friend only to find out that they were not. Its hard to admit you were just a hurdle.

A friendship of PLEASURE is one that is useful or pleasant but not necessarily a deep connect. We describe this to the kids as the friend with the great party house, or the life of the party who always keeps you laughing. You definitely want them at the party but you’re not really going to keep in touch after you graduate and it wouldn’t be hard to replace their spot in your group.

Friendships based on GOODNESS, those are what we all hope for. These are two individuals that share the same values, goals and hopes in life. They are alike in virtue, or character. They are genuinely concerned for the other. These friends are the ones that no matter what happens, the connection of the heart is so deep that months could go by and you would pick up in the same spot. They love you when your busy, angry, cranky. They celebrate with you and laugh with you. They come to your need and allow you to come to theirs. They let you be honest and they’re honest with you (and you let them!). A friend that is a friend of goodness will encourage you to make choices that will benefit your life and you will walk through fire for them.

Aristotle says that goodness is what develops a long landing friendship, I agree but I would add motives are strongly effected when the friendship is genuine. When its genuine the concern is for the other, when the friendship is utility or pleasure the focus ‘ME’.  Generosity of self is what I think all people are called to practice.

Unfortunately not all people are a ‘friend of goodness’. Its happened to us and  it will happen to them. Our kid’s friends may take advantage of their goodness and generosity for their own benefit and that’s when kids get hurt. What we teach our kids about the value of friendship is a life skill tool. It’s awful to watch them get  hurt by another person, to be used by kids you would like to hunt down yourself. But try to use those experiences to teach them the value of their good friends. Show them the contrast and they’ll see the difference. It may take a while, but the value of a faithful friend can make life’s journey that much sweeter.

“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.”
― Aristotle

2 years ago we almost lost our own son to binge drinking, this was our note to his friends that went out on facebook. We know that sharing this story saves lives, that’s why we’re posting it.

Facebook note:

Hi guys, 
this is the story of Friday night. This is Mrs. Dayton, Mr. Dayton and I wish we could sit down with all of you but we can’t. This we think is the best way to share with you what happened to your friend Friday night. We insisted on being able to do this, Andrew didn‘t have a choice but to let us post it and tag you in the note. 
Andrew survived this because he has a best friend and a sister who did what was right and called us. Here is what really happened. We ask that you read it with an open heart:

Mr. Dayton pulled into our driveway with Andrew in the front seat. He was unconscious, unresponsive and hardly breathing. We immediately rushed him to the hospital. We opened the windows and I prayed over his head. I yelled at him repeatedly to ’breathe’ and he would part his lips and take a very small shallow breath. The paramedic that came to the car did a sternum punch and yelled his name. His eyes flashed open and then immediately closed. He was brought in on a stretcher with oxygen. His shirt and vest immediately cut off while 4 nurses stuck him on both arms with IV’s while he screamed for me. They did other things to him as well, attempting to find out if there were other drugs in his system. His pupils were fixed and small. He was completely unresponsive and cold. His breathing was shallow and his heart rate slowed. His body temperature was low and he was only moments away from hypothermia. They piled him with blankets but almost placed him in trauma unit to give him warm fluids. Hypothermia leads to shutting down of organs and swelling of the brain. Coma or death was very real. Two hours in the doctor did a CAT scan to make sure that he didn’t have head trauma from a fall, thank God it was clear. At 12:30 the Doctor came in to see if he had a gag reflex and stuck a tongue depressor down his throat. His eyes immediate opened. He looked me straight in the eyes, I put my hand on his head and said ‘it’s Mom, Dad’s here. We’re so glad to see your eyes open’. He cried and said ‘so stupid’. It took 3 full bags of IV fluid in both arms before he woke up. He then spent the next hour throwing up and was put in the intensive care. We estimated that Andrew drank the equivalent to 12-14 shots of vodka in a 30-45 minute time frame. His blood alcohol level was .273, one point away from a coma. (We have now estimated that he did 12-17 since BAC drops 20pts every half hour, he was probably up over .3)

Andrew is not ‘the man’ a ‘champ’ or ‘a crazy ass’, he is lucky to be alive and home. We are lucky that we were not sent home with a bag of clothes and shoes and no Andrew. He is very blessed to have a friend that even when adults were yelling at him to take Andrew home, was brave enough to call Andrews sister to get us. His sister was strong enough after an adult put him in the front seat of the car passed out to call us even though the same adult was banging on the window for her to leave. 

So why did we choose to do this instead of just letting it go? Are we crazy? Maybe, but that’s better than silent. Andrew and those of you he was with did something stupid, you lied to your parents; you took advantage of the people’s home you were in while you drank. Most importantly you took a chance with your lives. We could be planning his funeral today if his best friend wasn’t brave enough to make the right choice. And we don’t want you kids to go to another one of your friends funerals; we have done that enough around here over the last three years. 

Know something though, we aren’t angry, we’re sad. We love all of you kids and those of you who really know us know that we want you to be the best young people you can be so that you can grow into the best adults you can be. Life is about choices. Sometimes we choose well, sometimes we don’t. One thing is very true; we become who we spend our time with. So I ask you, who do you choose to spend your time with? Who are your friends? 

There is a friend who will help you lie to your parents, and there is one who will stand next to you as you tell them truth.

There is a friend who will take pictures of you while you throw up and pass out on a toilet, and there’s a friend who will leave the bathroom to find an adult to help. 

There is a friend who will post those pictures on face book, and a friend who will delete them when your mother asks.

There is a friend who will let you sleep over so your parents don’t find out, and one who will call them so they can rush you to the hospital. 

There are friends who will comment that you’re crazy’ on your page with it ‘liked’ by many, and then the friends who call you the next day to see if you’re ok. 

What will you choose after reading this? Maybe nothing will change, but we hope you choose to start making strides to be a person of character. Will you continue to sneak and drink? Stop and think, your choices mold you into the adult you will become. When something like this happens, what do you do with the consequences? At a cross roads, which way will you go? You are laying the foundation of your life now; do you choose to build on sand or rock? 

Pass it along, print it out, give it to your parents and talk with them about it. It’s time to make Manasquan HS kids even better than they already are. 

Raise the bar, it’s time to choose. What kind of friend will you be?