|The family walk!|
Let me start by saying that this was not totally typical of family time at our house. First, we had all of the children here at once. This is unusual because with older kids, dances and time with friends often take precedence over unscheduled family time. While we set aside Monday evening as a time for our family, Saturday's rarely work for familial togetherness. Really, this Saturday wasn't so great either. There was one of the aforementioned church dances scheduled, and one of our kids had tentative plans with a friend. Like many parents, we decided to "take a stand". We wanted time with our kids and this was going to be the night.
In some quarters, this event was met with celebration, while others were less than impressed. "Can we please go? Pleeeeeeeeease?"
"No, not this time."
"No, really, I'm serious.... PLEASE."
"No, really, NO."
Well, this went on throughout the evening. "Why can't we go?"
"Because we want to have some family time."
"No, really, why? What did we do wrong?"
"Nothing, really, we just want to have some time together as a family."
"Seriously... Why do we have to do this? Tonight?"
"Look... We are going to spend some time together and you are GOING TO HAVE FUN! NOW LET'S PLAY YAHTZEE! WHERE'S THE YAHTZEE?!?!?!"
As you can see, this was, at times, tension fraught. Bolstered by our seven year old's sheer delight at sitting around the table playing a game with his family, we decided to soldier on. And, in some ways, it was fun. Two of our kids were having a raucous time, while the others looked like their world was about to end. This is somewhat unusual because more often than not our children are pretty good sports, but I can also say that we haven't been as consistent with extra family time for a while.
Following a Yahtzee game that was finished in a record 75 minutes (nine people and one Yahtzee cup, what can you expect?), my wife was determined that we go on a family walk. Not just any walk... She made us line up in age order, marching up the street, led by a stroller pushed by our diminutive six year old. Now, the point of this exercise had nothing to do with instilling military precision into our kids, although this is an interesting idea, we just wanted to see what kinds of looks we would get from passing motorists. And looks we got - mouths agape, smiles and some doubletakes. I guess you just don't see families like ours walking to the local park en famille.
Our destination, the park, was deserted. This allowed us to take over the swings, slides and teeter-totters with abandon. We swung (swinged? Enswingulated?), played freeze tag and tried to get our oldest son to join in. For some reason, he'd assumed the position of a J.C. Penney underwear model, not wanting to admit that he was with these people. I can't imagine why.
The evening ended, almost, at home with a round the piano singalong. Before the cockles of your heart are warmed, I must tell you that this was met most reluctantly. Our daughter was game, and we let her pick the songs. Unfortunately, this led to a medley of every love song from 1990's Disney films, but at least she was playing along. I can assure you, though, that the answer to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" was a resounding, "No."
Disappointed that, overall, our dream of family togetherness did not go well, we had one of our little family meetings and it was straight to bed!
Now, here's where the seeds come in. The last thing I expected was to have another "fun" family night in the near future. But, as we gathered around the table for a very casual dinner of nachos, our oldest son asked if we could all play Yahtzee. Another one of our children wanted to go on a walk to the park. And, vintage copy of the Mitch Miller songbook in hand, we had another family singalong, complete with one of the kids accompanying on guitar. And this time... it really was fun. Had we not plowed through Saturday night, Sunday night wouldn't ever have been so fun.
So, to you parents, take courage! Don't give up, because just when you think you've failed in your goal of creating a united family, you might be able to reap the harvest of those seeds you've sown.