We have a few offenses that are standard.
1. Family Dinners
Life is crazy and sometimes forcing a moment to sit down together can be pretty tough. Sometimes we have to wait a long time for Troy to get home from work and the hunger really sets in. It seems like the baby always needs to be fed or held the second we sit down at the table. But, we do our very best to make family dinnertime a priority. We talk about our “happies” and “sads” from the day. Blake’s happies are usually whichever outing we went on or errand we ran, and his sads are inevitably that he lost his m&m or band-aid. Most of the time this ritual leads to good discussions and helps us to share what really happened during the day instead of just saying it was “good” or “fine.” Family dinners have become automatic and they are a great offense.
2. Making Meaningful Memories
Another offense we have is making meaningful memories. If I don’t push to make memories, our life becomes the same every day; the boys play and take naps, Troy goes to work, and I keep up the house and do projects. This weekend included a “first” for our family. We took the boys to their first movie on the big screen. I have to admit, I had low expectations for a two and a half year old and a baby at the theater, but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. I only had to stand up once to bounce the baby to sleep and Blake stayed seated the entire time (only occasionally shouting, “Buzz!” “Woody!” at the Toy Story 3 screen). I don’t know what it was, but we felt like such a family after this activity. I love that it was a “first” among memories.
3. Weekly Family Night
Family meetings are a huge family offense for us. We try to set aside time every Monday night for a family home evening meeting. We avoid making other plans because Monday nights are family nights. Sometimes we go out and do activities together, but most of the time we just talk about our upcoming schedules and arrangements that need to be made, sing songs, share a brief message that works for a toddler attention span, have an activity, and eat a treat.
I’ve tried to be better lately about preparing ahead of time for family night. That doesn’t mean I’m great at having every detail planned out.
Sometimes Most of the time I’m scrambling at the last minute to find a message to share. And even though we are consistent at holding family night, it doesn’t mean that Blake isn’t begging to go outside or whining for m&m’s while we’re trying to share a message with him. Hopefully though, some of what we are trying to achieve is sinking in.
This week, we talked about the important truths in the song “I am a Child of God.” We taught the boys that they really are children of God. That Heavenly Father sent them to a home on earth with parents to help them. That when they do what is right, they can one day return to live with God. We talked about how every child of God is different. We showed Blake pictures of himself and Nash and pointed out differences in their physical traits and in their inner talents. We told Blake how special he was.
I tucked Blake onto my lap and told him some things he was good at. Troy and I wrote the first letter of some of his talents on each of his fingertips. “F” for being funny, “P” for being polite and always using the phrase “May I have some (fill in the blank) please,” “B” for being a kind and sharing big brother, “M” for having an amazing memory, and “C” for being cautious and calm.
It made him feel happy.
It made him feel secure.
When the letters washed off, he begged to do it again.
What could possibly be a better offense than making your child believe that he can succeed? The point of all of the offenses that we are trying to establish is to build up our children and each other. They create a forum for random as well as important things to be talked about. Even at young ages, the habits that we have started make our boys feel like important parts of our family “whole.” So, maybe I don’t have perfectly planned out curriculum every day like I thought I would, maybe our family dinnertime sometimes consists of take-out meals, and maybe I don’t spend every waking moment on the floor with my children, but the bottom line is that consistent time together makes families stronger. That is an offense worth fighting for.