Solidify Your Most Important Relationships

by Mary Ann on December 15, 2011

picture of my little friend haley

My friend, Hailey

Could a 61 year old woman and an 8 year old girl have an enjoyable evening together just talking and reading? Well I have the answer!!

Every Monday a family with three girls comes to my home and we have an evening together. It’s pretty predictable. I read them a couple of chapters from a classic while they do some quiet activity on the floor, all surrounded with a pile of pillows. Then we have a snack, whatever I have on hand, nothing fancy, and then I read them the scriptures. That’s pretty much it, no bells and whistles. It is a quiet and unhurried evening of just enjoying each others company.

Their mom is a busy student. She is going to be a nurse and so sometimes she forgets our evening and then gets a chewing out by the girls. That happened last night. Now it wouldn’t be a problem but I also have an 8 year old girl who lives downstairs from me. She has gotten wind of our Monday rendezvous and she has asked to join us. She has come twice. I thought both times that she would get bored and not want to come any more, after all it’s pretty tame.

This Monday night she was at my door at 6:30 – “Are you having it tonight?” “Yes we are. I talked to the girls yesterday and we are on so I will send one of them to get you at about 7:30”.

At 7:35 Hailey was at my door again. “Did they come?” “Gosh, it is time. I don’t know where they are. Let’s give them a call and see.” Oh, oh, Vicky was taking a final and forgot. I looked at Haley and her disappointed face. I had been shampooing my carpets all day preparing for a big all-day parenting event in my home on Sat. I wasn’t really sorry to have the night off. I had a lot to do! Then I looked again at Hailey’s disappointed face.

“Well Hailey they forgot and so they aren’t coming.” She didn’t say anything, just looked at me with expectation. “Hailey lets just have an evening by ourselves.” She enthusiastically nodded her head. We sat at the table and made paper Christmas chains. I thought that as soon as we ran out of strips she would head on home. While we worked we talked about school, her friends, the holiday….and then she said, “Well, aren’t you going to read?”

I read and we talked about the story and what was happening and what we thought about it. Then she asked if we were going to read the scriptures. She knew right where we had left off.

Hailey and I ate Jordan Almonds, read, made paper chains and talked and talked. Well, I listened a lot and Hailey talked. : ) I kept thinking that she would get bored any time and want to go home. After all I am 61 and not her school friend who is usually here. She never did!

christmas paper chain decoration

Hailey's beautiful Christmas Paper Chain

Here is the point of the story. The first rule of engagement is structure time for what is important and then be consistent. The second rule is be present.

Hailey has only come to our evening event two times. It isn’t exciting or anything. It is quiet, with reading and maybe a small activity. Yet here she was at my door anxious to be here.

Children like and need structure. They want to be able to count on the things. They want consistency. They want you, your presence. That was what drew Hailey to my door, the structure of something she could look forward to and the consistency of having it happen, and me, listening, hearing and responding. It was an evening that I am glad that I didn’t miss.

Set up some structured time for your family and then be consistent. Give your children something to count on. Don’t let school, work or carpet cleaning come between you and really getting to know and enjoy your children. Be present and really solidify your most important relationships.

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