15 Minutes of Fame…

“Hustle and bustle are like my right and left arms…”

That is a quote from Lil’ Spice, which was re-quoted by Strongbad in a well-thought out Englilsh paper he wrote for Kyle “The Yellow Dart” Smith (Google it if you are confused – Homestar Runner was really big back in my day).

But, these days, it is true.

Papi leaves at 5:45 am to get to work by 6:30 am to get finished by 2:30 pm to get to the university and start class by 3:30 pm to get home by 5:30 pm to eat and put the kids in bed by 7:30 pm to finish paying bills, study Sunday School Lessons, or grade papers to be in bed by 11:00 pm. Rest and repeat.

Mami wakes up at 5:45 am to get the kids to school by 7:30 am to get home and run errands to finish by 11:45 am to drop the youngest son of for school to get home and put the baby down for an  hour and get more work done to pick the kids up at 2:30 pm to get them home and finished with homework by 5:00 pm to get them in bed by 7:30 pm to finish laundry, dishes, craft projects, lunches for the next day, or any other odd jobs to be in bed by 11:00 pm. Rest and repeat.

Routine and structure are great. I will never say anything contrary, but sometimes, hustle and bustle can be like my right and left arms… We work hard trying to cram as much as we can into the day that God made for us.

Also, there is another dynamic at play in our house. Even though we try to have fun and silly times with our kids, we still deal with our children in bulk. If we can do something fun for two, it will always trump doing something fun for one. That’s why board games, movies, and trampoline time seem to dominate our activities. Please don’t misinterpret this. I love that we do things as a family, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

However, over the past few months, I began to notice that our routine and our entourage were stifling our individual relationships with each kid. The only time they are with Mom and Dad is when they are with their brothers and sisters, and we are usually focused on whatever is scheduled for that particular part of the day.

So, after talking last weekend with Beth, we instituted a program called “15 Minutes of Fame.” Each kid already has a day of the week to help with dinner, to lead Bible time, and to pray in the evenings (5 kids, 5 week-days). With “15 Minutes of Fame”, if it is your day of the week, after all the other kids go to bed, you get to stay up an extra 15 minutes with Mom and Dad and talk about whatever you want to talk about. Mom and Dad do not do anything else while you are talking, and you don’t have any brothers or sisters listening to you or vying for attention.

The idea was I wanted to connect with all my children on a personal level, but I was skeptical of how it would work. Beth and I figured, if it was a disaster, we could always figure something else out the next week.

Monday’s child was up first… Our middle son. So, at the end of Monday, all kids are down, he’s up, and we explain the game to him…… EXPLOSION! So many words! There were words about friends, words about school, words about games he is playing with his friends, words about his best friend, words about church and what he is doing at school. There were words about a game he plays that, after he described it, sounds a lot like “coodies”. He plays with his friends on the playground almost every day. How can something be so important to my son and I not know anything about it?!? So much information!

Tuesday’s child, full of grace…. Our oldest. Same result. More un-turned rocks in his life too!

Wednesday’s child…. Our oldest daughter. Ella puede hablar! It was a Spanish whirlwind!

We’re now to Thursday, and I can tell you, it is safe to say that “15 Minutes of Fame” will become part of our routine from now on. In our year and a half of being a family, these few minutes have been some of the most fruitful in attaching with each child INDIVIDUALLY. We have attached as a family, but the individual bonds were something I think we have been lacking for far too long.

I’m lucky I’m in a place in life where my kids still want to tell me stuff… I work with teenagers at church, and, from what I can see there, I know that those days won’t be around forever. Also, we have always let our children know from the first day we got them that they can always talk to us about anything. We want to be there for everything they need. I think they knew that, but having a forum to put it into practice helps a lot with that too. People with smaller families may not have this issue (I honestly don’t know), but we learned that each of our children has so much to tell us if we just let them.

At the end, we call time, and every child (without exception) has asked if they can have 5 more minutes of fame. I bet Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer are asking the same thing!

At the dinnermesa,