Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Our FHE ledger

I'll admit I scoffed a little when I found out my progenitors kept a ledger of minutes for their family home evenings. How formal of them, I thought, to have kept such a detailed record of such an informal event.

And then I remembered my blog...

Now, I don't keep minutes of family night, per se, but I think I've discussed enough family home evenings in great enough detail to be guilty of the very thing I was scoffing at, and, truthfully, only part of me was laughing about the family night ledger. The other part of me was ecstatic and grateful to have this glimpse into the past.

So without further ado, I will give you a glimpse into our FHE for the past couple of weeks.

Tonight we took things easy. I pulled out the illustrated Book of Mormon Stories book, had all the kids pick a number between 1 and 30, added those numbers up, and opened the book to 53, which was the story of when "The Sons of Mosiah Become Missionaries." That particular story is only one page long, however, so I backtracked a bit and assigned the children the story "Alma the Younger Repents" as well.

Then I shooed them off to the basement, telling them to set the timer for twenty minutes and then to read the story together, assign roles, pick out costumes, rehearse, and come back to perform it for me and Andrew.

It was the quietest family night we've had in quite a while!

I called my sister Kelli back (I'd missed a call from her during dinner), played with Alexander without anyone squishing him, and we even got some post-work spouse-to-spouse conversation in without kids climbing all over us.

And then we were treated to this charming masterpiece:

Miriam was King Mosiah and a rabble rouser, Rachel was Alma the Elder and the angel, Benjamin was Alma the Younger, and Zoë was a son (or all the sons) of Mosiah.

This might end up being a repeat activity for when Monday is too hectic to get a real lesson together.

Last week our lesson was much more formal. We talked about the "funnel of freedom" and how if you consistently make choices that limit your freedom you will eventually end up with very limited freedom. It's a relatively simple concept, but one that can be difficult to grasp. Every choice comes with a consequence, which can be positive or negative. When you make a choice what you're really choosing is the consequence, even if you think you're choosing something else.

For example, if I ask you to clean your room, for example, and you choose to listen and obey, then when your friend asks to see if you can play you are free to do so. But if you choose not to clean your room then you aren't free to play. So you weren't choosing to not clean your room so much as you were choosing to forgo playing with your friends (which is a choice that limits your freedom).

There are more dire examples that we talked about for...reasons. For example, if you choose to break the law repeatedly, you will likely wind up in prison (where your choices/freedom are severely curtailed). That's just the way it is.

We talked about freedom-expanding choices (traveling up the funnel of freedom where you have a million choices to make), and we talked about spiraling down the freedom funnel by making freedom-reducing choices. We talked about how, should you get stuck in the narrowest part of the funnel, you can always, at any point, turn your life upside down and make your way back out again. (Everyone thought I had chosen beans, which got stuck in the narrow tip of the funnel, by accident when I was showing them how a funnel worked, but really I wanted them to point out how to get out of the funnel should something become stuck—"Turn it over!" they all yelled, so it worked like a charm). Hooray for turning over a new leaf! Hooray for repentance!

We talked for a long time.

I didn't expect all the kids to fully grasp the concept, but I was hoping the older kids would at least understand a bit of what we were trying to tell them. Rachel and Miriam seemed to appreciate the lesson. Benjamin seemed to be scared straight.

"Forget all those mistakes I made when I was younger," he said solemnly. "From now on I am only making good choices!"

And for approximately three whole days, he made fabulous choices.

During family scripture study, he opened his set of scriptures and read the entire chapter aloud to us. He also read scriptures during his quiet reading time (instead of, like, jumping on the bed like he normally does).

On Tuesday morning he got up and cleaned the basement bathroom (his chore of the day) and then spent the morning sitting on the couch, reading the scriptures.

On Wednesday his friend Ty came over to play and he insisted that they have some scripture reading time together. His poor little friend, who is a reluctant reader, protested, "I'm not trained in reading scriptures! I'm trained in reading little kid books!" Benjamin was like, "Then just follow along. I'll do the reading!"

Evidently Benjamin believes that reading your scriptures is the epitome of good choices.

Although his participation during family scripture study is still loads better than it ever has been, his desire to be good overall has relaxed quite a bit since our lesson last Monday and he has still managed plenty of mischief this past week.

That's just part of the joy of childhood, I suppose.

And that concludes my summary of the past two weeks of family home evening. Except, I suppose I should mention that Alexander conducted both weeks. This was only to prevent the other children from fighting over who should get to be the conductor and not because he's actually any good at conducting, though when we asked him who should say the opening prayer he said, "BUH!" which we took to mean Benjamin (so at least he's trying to be a good conductor).

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