Right now I have a huge crush on my family…I love it when I feel this gushy. Last night was special, different. I think we did something my children will remember much longer than they’d recall cards or candy.

We had dinner in our dining room and used our fine china, crystal and sterling. The kids were excited–usually we just use that stuff with company, and they’re usually in the kitchen “with the kids”. I dunno, during the day I just thought, “What can I do to make this day special?” and so, this is what I came up with. I KNOW my children were into it, because Rachel (with Stephen’s “help”) made beautiful name cards for each of us.

One of those things I treasured in my heart was our conversation as we finished eating. Several years ago Rachel and I visited American Girls Place in Chicago; among the souveniers we brought home was a “Conversation Starter Box”–an adorable black box with white polka dots and a hot pink bow. In it are slips of paper with random questions; the point is to draw one from the box and answer the question. We’ve used this with friends and family in the past, and although some are resistant at first, usually everyone has fun with it in the end.

Stephen asked if we could “do the conversation box”, so keepin’ in flow with the evening, we got it out. It went around the table twice, they wanted to go three times, but it was getting late, so we stopped at two.

Two questions stood out to me (we all usually answer the ones each other draws): First, I think I drew on the second round “What is one thing you would like to change about your personality.” These were all our answers–Me (that I would be more organized and neater about our home); Rachel (she would be less “embarrassed” about things most people don’t get embarrassed about–she’d KILL me if I gave examples!); Thomas (his short fuse, I think he said “anger management issues”–an 11 year old! lol); Stephen (that he’d be less picky–for instance, he ate salad, a roll, maybe some fettucine–without the sauce!–but did NOT eat a WONDERFUL ribeye steak last night!); and Tad (that he’d like to read more).

This is the thing about all that….if there were things I’d change about my family, these are are some of the things I’d like to change. And here’s my point–we (no, I) can be so easily critical of others, want to change them. But often, the very things we (I) want to change are things others really would like to change in themselves. We (I) don’t need to be harsh on them…we are probably our own greatest enemy, plagued with self-loathing about the qualities we don’t like in ourselves. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think my kids or Tad “hate” themselves over the things they’d like to see different in themselves, I just thought it was interesting that they already struggle? wrestle with? acknowledge and understand? the things I might find fault with. Right then and there I decided to be more forgiving with their personality traits I’d like to change, and pray for them toward that end instead. (This is perhaps the most poorly constructed paragraph I’ve ever written, I hope SOME of what I’m saying makes sense! 🙂 ).

The second thing I think I’ll treasure about the evening is the new names Rachel and the boys came up with for us in response to one of her questions–Say hello to Renaldo, Millicent, Beatrice, Henry and Theodore (formerly Tad, Robin, Rachel, Thomas and Stephen). There were a lot of laughs while they came up with this, and I have no idea why or how they settled on those names…they’re just funny.

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