A few years ago, Tom and I saw a terrifying independent film called "Thirteen." Briefly, the film follows the deterioration of a fun, interesting, confident twelve year old into an insecure, popular, media driven thirteen year old. As soon as the film was over, Tom turned to me and said, "We are having family night* every night." We were motivated for a month or two and then Project Runaway happened. The next spur to action was when we were having a discussion over dinner about something gospel-related and every reply the girls gave us was either "read your scriptures" or "say your prayers." (Disclaimer: I'm not saying those are not good answers--in fact, they are often right--we just don't want the girls to become intellectually or spiritually lazy like their folks.) We were stirred to action once again until Mythbusters started. For about three months now, we have had consistent, interesting and fun family nights thanks to a little gem I stumbled upon, "Little Big Minds." Our discussion on responsibility last night involved the following poem:
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass,how to be idle and blessed,
how to stroll through the fields,which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Most of the evening, Tess complained that we were only asking her 4-year old questions, which is insulting to her. According to Tess, she is ready for 8-year old level questions.
Here are a few of the girls favorite responsibilities:
- Get enough sleep so you aren't a pill; and
- Always look your best when cleaning the chalk boards.
*family night is a LDS tradition where one night a week you force yourself to do something besides watching reality television after dinner. Instead, you attempt to teach your offspring something wholesome and then eat something unwholesome, like a four-layer brownie and pint of Godiva ice cream. It's fun.