I don't want to go all 'church-lady' on anybody, but I do want to discuss big kid FHE. FHE is this dandy institution (also known as Family Home Evening) suggested way back in 1915 by Joseph F. Smith, president of the LDS Church. It's a Mormon thing, yes, but it's also just a logical, good-sense way to teach your kids and strengthen your family. Everyone wants that, right? 

For those of you unfamiliar with FHE, here's the low-down: FHE is family night. It's a time set aside to connect and enjoy each other's company. Traditionally, FHE is held on Monday evenings. The whole family gathers together for a song, prayer, a short lesson, maybe a game, and some refreshments. The refreshment part is critical to FHE, but all of the other elements are flexible. For us, FHE is sometimes a family walk, a family swim, or a bowling night. Other times we might make homemade ice cream or play board games. And yes, there have been lots and lots of lessons -- where we talk about all kinds of things, from honesty and money management to Bible stories and spiritual enlightenment. 

In the last couple of years we've fallen off of the FHE bandwagon. It's shameful. I'm ashamed.  As the girls got older, the little lessons on 'being a good friend' or 'Noah's Ark' seemed less germane. Although, let's be honest -- the kids were busy and I was lazy, because being a good friend and practicing obedience are probably most needed during teenage years.

Thus, in the spirit of getting back on the proverbial horse, we have taken up the FHE banner once again. Last night I asked Parker to prepare the lesson. I pointed him towards a few websites with FHE ideas and left him to his own devices. After reading around a bit, he asked Becca and I to be prepared to share a talent (he texted these instructions to Sterling).  

Okay. I had exactly one hour to learn how to juggle. (I do like to impress my kids from time to time). 

In the end, the boy gave a nice lesson on developing one's talents through hard work (he told a story and shared a scripture). And then there was the talent portion of the evening.  Here's how that went down: 

  1. Becca sang "The Man Who Can't be Moved" by The Script while accompanying herself on the guitar. It was really good, and I felt compelled to explain that some people's talents are very demonstrable and entertaining, while other's talents are more hidden. Ahem.
  2. Sterling did a silent skit where he completely acted out a scene in a restaurant. I can't even explain it to you here in less than 1,000 words, but Becca and Parker thought it was HILARIOUS.
  3. Failing to learn to juggle for the 273rd time, I fell back on an old talent standby. I did a dramatic recitation of Shel Silverstein's poem "Peanut-Butter Sandwich."  It was no show-stopper, but it was . . . interesting (and short).
  4. Parker displayed and provided commentary on six of his recent lego creations. He showed us hidden compartments and really talked about his interest in building vehicles of war (you know, tanks and the like). 

Guys, it was really fun and Parker took his job of conducting and teaching VERY SERIOUSLY. And then I remembered all of the reasons FHE is so good and needed -- time spent together, lessons shared and learned, responsibility divided, budding teachers encouraged. Big kids need this. Parents of big kids need it maybe even more.

Note: FHE isn't just for traditional families. Madison was recently asked to coordinate a FHE group at BYU. She and a guy are responsible for planning weekly activities (games, outings, acts of service) for a group of eight freshman. I think it's a great way to help students get to know each other and to foster a sense of belonging.