Monday night at our house is what we call "Family Night", where we try to take a few minutes to spend quality time together and incorporate spiritual teaching moments with our kids. It is a concept I was raised with, and growing up with six siblings I have sometimes referred to it as "Family dysfunction that starts and ends with prayer". But our kids LOVE family night.
Last night I thought I put together a pretty decent meal of roasted turkey with mango sauce and baked sweet potatoes. The beholders of my DNA could not have disagreed more with the self-proclaimed brilliance of this meal, which is why Cory found himself offering this deal: "Drew, if you eat EVERYTHING on your plate we'll go to 'Cold Stone' for Family Night." Samantha shouted with glee until Drew shot her a look and said, "We're not gonna make it. I'm not eating this." Thus ensued her ten minute pouting session interrupted with bouts of prodding and attempted guilt-inducing tactics upon her younger brother. He remained steadfast in his commitment that he would not be able to finish his food, and Samantha obediently cleaned her plate and lamented that Drew's weak stomach was responsible for her plight of a non-visit to Cold Stone.
After leaving the dinner table we started our regular routine of Family Night. We began with a prayer and a song and then I whispered what I believed to be a brilliant idea into Cory's ear. He smiled in agreement, and began what was his turn for a lesson. He explained why Jesus is important, that he died for us because he was perfect and we are not, and that he did something for us that nobody else could do.
"Drew, you know how you couldn't finish your dinner?"
"Well, just like Jesus did something for us that we couldn't do for ourselves, I'm going to give Samantha the opportunity to do something for you that you couldn't do. And if she would like to finish your dinner for you, we will still take you to Cold Stone."
Samantha's eyes lit up at our offering, and she immediately got to work eating Drew's dinner. He looked on with great interest and we tried to reinforce the point while she chewed. We asked, "Drew, how do you feel about Samantha that she is willing to do this for you?" He looked at us and smiled wide. "So how do you feel about the fact that Jesus would go through so much suffering JUST FOR YOU?"
"Sooo, Samantha is Jesus?" he asked.
"Not really, but it's kind of like..."
"Hey Samantha, are you gonna eat ALL those sweet potatoes?"
"So Drew, why is Jesus important again?"
"Uhhh...I can't remember."
"Because just as...."
"Mom, do I have to eat the piece of turkey that Drew put ketchup on?"
"Oh my gosh, If I have to eat one more bite I feel like I'll throw up."
For about twenty minutes this went on. Samantha got sick and Cold Stone no longer seemed like a good idea to her. Drew was forced to finish the last bite so we could at least say that they both tried their best. By the end of the night our "Awesome Parenting Moment of the Year" award had been tossed in a proverbial trash can while Samantha moaned and groaned on her bed. We have promised them ice cream tonight instead, which will go perfect with the snow that has rolled in today. And as for our effective teaching techniques, it looks like we'll have to leave that up to their Sunday School teachers.