“Turns,” Ensign, Sept. 1992, 62
“Whose turn is it tonight?” our young son hopefully queries. He enjoyed time alone with us last week, but hopes we have lost track.
In our large family, the hectic pace of everyday living makes it easy for my husband and me to lump our children together into one noisy, busy brood. Often a child’s individuality gets lost in the group. To combat that tendency, every Monday at the conclusion of family home evening, we allow one child to design for himself or herself—and the parent of choice—a “turn.” Our love for each child increases as we delight in the personality and preferences that make him or her different from the others.
Our teenage young lady with an undeniable flair for fashion finds that her turn is a time to convert Mom to the wonderful world of style. It’s amazing what good shopping-mall partners a mother and daughter can become when there are no little brothers pulling things off the hangers and hiding under the heap of clothes that results!
Our teenage son, who has a fondness for fast cars, finds terrific comradery with a dad who is too often preoccupied with the realities of the telephone bill and the trash that didn’t get put out. One evening, after watching my husband and son take two test drives around the block in a bright red sports car, I wondered if my son’s turn was for his benefit or his father’s!
Our middle child, who is six years old, doesn’t talk as loudly or as often as his chatty older sisters, and he has outgrown the privilege of whining for attention like his younger brothers. But he comes to life with an evening he can tailor. I don’t think he’ll ever forget the time he challenged his dad to a chess contest over a bowl of frozen yogurt. The women at the yogurt store were so enchanted that they added a topping for free!
One daughter relishes the quiet—a rare commodity in the cacophony of a large family. Her idea of a perfect turn is to take a flashlight walk, hand in hand with her daddy. The evening is a real success if they can catch a glimpse of a rabbit or a mouse mesmerized by the beam of their searching flashlights.
Another daughter craves an undistracted audience. She accumulates passages from her favorite books and her own poetry—as well as high-velocity conversation—for the entire six weeks prior to her turn. She unleashes it all with a burst of energy the moment the invited parent says “Go.” Her turn needs no designated activity, and location is insignificant.
The children’s turns are never expensive and rarely require planning. The critical ingredients for a successful turn are an individual child and a parent who is eager to listen, love, and enjoy.—Kathy Clayton, Irvine, California