--I receive printables about General Conference in my email inbox every 6 months.
--I stumble across ideas on blogs.
--My kids come home from church with handouts and challenges from their primary leaders/teachers.
All are great ideas. I have no criticism of them. I've even printed a few of them out and let my own kids have a go at them.
But I've found that for the most part they are distractions from the real event.
If a kid is playing conference bingo, I'm usually hearing, "Mom, Mom, did he say 'faith?'" instead of hearing the talk about faith.
It's the same for the kid playing conference bingo--listening for isolated words instead of messages.
E14 has received numerous packets
encouraging her to use her general conference experience as a Personal
Progress value project. She has successfully ignored every one of them,
choosing to nap instead of listen or take notes.
Nevertheless, I've felt faintly guilty over the years for not throwing myself into building tents so that my kids can experience general conference like the people of King Benjamin did ever so long ago, or for not having activity baskets for each child. I've wondered if I've been denying my children something that would strengthen their love for conference, increase their opportunities to develop faith, and generally make their childhoods joyful and memorable.
Our whole tradition for conference has been: everyone has to stay in the room where conference is on. Kids may play with quiet toys, draw pictures, take notes, listen, or completely tune out as long as they're in the room. Mom and Dad watch conference, take occasional notes, and care for whomever is the baby at that time. When our internet was slow, we dressed up, packed bags of toys and snacks and went to the church. Now that our internet is fast we stay home. Either way, we all stay in the same room together.
And I make cinnamon rolls on General Conference Sunday mornings.
But not really.
We've never done fabulous Family Home Evening lessons preparing the kids for conference, but my husband and I have talked openly about how excited we are for conference. He's made sure to request vacation days if it was possible he might be scheduled to work that weekend. He and I have pored over the General Conference editions of the Ensign, sharing aloud those words that have touched our hearts. We've talked around the dinner table about talks that apply to life. We've made General Conference part of our daily lives, but without any fanfare.
As my kids have napped, played, bickered, drawn, and snacked their way through General Conference year after year, I've looked around the room and wondered, "Have I failed them? Should I have done more?"
Yesterday I received an answer.
We set up the computer.
We reviewed the rule.
We sat down to watch.
In a quiet moment I looked around the room:
E14 had a notebook and pencil out--for the first time! And it was by her own choice.
M12 had her journal and a pen taking copious notes.
S11 had a notebook and pen.
J10 had her tablet--trying to take electronic notes.
A7 had a sketch pad and crayons--she was drawing General Conference scenes.
H4 was cutting and pasting quietly in a new workbook (a recent homeschool conference present).
I2 was playing a matching game on the floor.
I had my scripture journal and a pen.
Daddy had his traditional piece of notebook paper and a pen.
The room was quiet, reverent, busy. Everyone was engaged in their own way.
I have not failed.
I'm glad there are clever, creative, inventive, fun people who share their ideas for making General Conference a memorable family tradition. I admire their energy and enthusiasm.
I am not one of them.
But that's okay; it is not necessary to have an in-home laminator to make the most of General Conference.
We have learned and grown in the manner and time appropriate for our family.