Last night we had our first real Family Home Evening. The girls are getting old enough, we decided, and our lives are getting normal enough, that it's time to institute weekly FHE. We gave it a shot last night. Of course when you make efforts to do something right, forces combine to thwart those efforts. Ed got some sudden work late in the day and so didn't come home until about 8pm. The girls were wired from fatigue and Daddy's arrival, and didn't want to sit on the couch or do anything else except whine and flop around. Ginger moaned in protest through Hazel's prayer, and bit my leg before it was over, thus securing herself an immediate time-out-turned-early-bedtime. Hazel insisted on "fishing" with her toy dog-on-a-leash during the songs, and threw a fist-pounding-back-arching fit when it was taken away. Even I, usually a model of emotional control, ended up throwing a few things angrily and marching into another room to collect myself. What would we do without even-tempered Ed?
But the 15 minutes it lasted had its shining moments. Hazel has created a rote prayer she likes to say at every opportunity: "Dear Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this food and this lunch and this prayer. And don't forget my best friend Kaleigh. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." As expected, this was also her opening prayer for Family Home Evening last night. We took this first FHE to talk about prayer, to explain that you say different things in your prayers depending on the setting and circumstances, and you should always think about what you want to say before praying. Just as we were losing their attention, Ed pulled out the September Friend (the LDS magazine for kids) and said, "Now we're going to read a story about a girl who was too scared to go to sleep."
Ginger immediately climbed up onto his lap and Hazel snuggled up to him with sudden and intense interest. It was about a little girl who was scared of the noise a branch made against her window. Her father came to comfort her and suggested she could pray to feel better. So they prayed together that she wouldn't be afraid anymore, and she was able to go to sleep. I wanted badly to take a picture of the three of them reading the story, but my camera was upstairs and I didn't want to leave. Hazel loved it, and it bought us one more quick chance to testify that you can pray to Heavenly Father for help with anything, and not just at meals and bedtime. Then we sang a couple of songs, read a bedtime story, and had a closing prayer. By this time Ginger was in time-out-bed, but Hazel got a muffin for dessert, and my angel husband put her to bed and did the dishes while I recovered from my own outburst.
Overall it was a success but I do hope it will get easier.