Logistically it was one of the worst trips I’ve ever been on. A third of the students got sick, one of them even projectile vomited on other students, the wind broke tent poles, sand was everywhere, the boat ride took twice as long as expected, it was miserable half the weekend, and students can’t wait to go back. I’m serious about it being a miserable trip, you can ask just about anyone who went on our fall retreat last year, and they will tell you that the conditions weren’t wonderful and that just about anything that could go wrong did. However, you will likely find lots of joy and laughter from them when they talk about it. You’ll hear some of them talking about being the best fire makers, or about that time two girls moved an entire palm tree half a mile for firewood, or when they tried to teach people how to cast nets. And they might complain about the lack of a bathroom, but they are legitimately excited about going on this trip again in a few weeks.
A little over a year ago, a video started going around asking the question of parents and their kids “If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would it be?”. Here’s the video for you to watch yourself, it only takes about two minutes and is well worth the watch:
You might be just as surprised by the kid's answers as I was. In fact, I was pretty sure that this video was staged or they interviewed multiple families and only showed the few that fit the video’s theme. But even if they did (which I don’t think they did) studies are coming out that support the fact that kids want to eat meals with their family. I remember all the “eat more meals together at the family table” ads that were on TV a few years ago and thought they were just weird. But everything I see now says that kids want that experience, they want conversations (WHAT?!?), and they do cherish that time together (even if they act like they hate it).
It doesn’t matter how bad of a cook you are, or even if everything goes horribly wrong, kids want that shared experience with you. I remember as a kid ordering pizza once a week and watching TGIF on tv. Step by Step, Family Matters, and Boy Meets World are still intertwined in my memory with family time that if I ever see them come on tv, I instantly think of Friday nights with my family. I can still point out exactly when in the movie Aladdin my mom had to step away for a bit so we used this really fancy thing on the VCR that marked where we were so that we could continue to watch the movie and then rewind it to that specific spot for her to not miss anything.
Why do I remember that? I have no idea, just like I have no idea why I remember half the stuff I thought was really insignificant as a kid but have become the things that are stuck with me forever. Spend time together, even if it’s just watching tv. Be active in their lives and let them be active in your life. Eat dinner with your kids, because even though it seems like it doesn’t make a difference, it is one of the biggest things you can do.