The scripture says: But be ye therefore doers of the word and not hearers only...
It still clicks every time I read it. Maybe because my personality yields itself to wanting to progress in all the things in all my whole life (much to my husband's (and my) chagrin sometimes), and it makes sense to me that doing things would be a great way to make some progress.
And so, all those years ago, I read that scripture and realized that we had a bit of a problem. Every Sunday we'd sit in our Sunday School classes and practice being good hearers, and then we'd come home and sit around the dinner table and talk about things we learned while being hearers, and then we'd... do nothing.
Well, nothing focused on what we'd heard in our Sunday School classes anyway.
So the motto was born and now things are different. Now we sit around and discuss all the things we heard in Sunday School, and at the end of the discussion everyone picks a Doers for his or herself that they will focus on for the rest of the week. That they will focus on doing.
It has worked for us (as much as anything 'works' for a family full of kids I suppose) for years and years and years.
But recently it's kind of gone a bit stagnant. We still go through the motions, sitting, discussing, picking a doer, but then we often find ourselves sitting back around the same dinner table seven days later with hardly a memory about what we had chosen the week before.
So, it's not really working at the moment. This isn't unusual, we've gone though pockets like this before, but this time as our family motto was losing a bit of resolve I was simultaneously reading a new-to-me parenting book called The Entitlement Trap (because it was 2018 and it seemed rather appropriate). In it the author, Richard Eyre (who, fun fact, is the father of one of our Durham friends), spends a whole chapter talking about the importance of children feeling ownership in their families and suggests that a great way to do this is to pick a family motto.
Pick a family motto, he suggests, but let them be a part of creating it. Then they will feel invested in it, feel ownership over it and it will mean something real to them. This struck a cord in all the parts of me so I brought it up over our Shake Shack burgers with the big kids.
(I don't know why I'm the only one in focus in this picture...
but it illustrates why I've been falling out of love with my phone camera for quite some time now.
I'm rather grumpy about it, so maybe don't bring it up.)
"You guys," I began, "how do you feel about our family motto?"
"Um..." There was a moment of whiplash as they redirected their brains from The Best Burgers in the World to The Family Motto, but once they recovered they lit on fire. They insisted that they loved our family motto, and by the way they talked about it, it seemed to be actually attached to and intertwined with their personalities. Parent payday for the parent all about progress.
"I love it," McKenzie said earnestly.
"Yeah, me too," Carson agreed.
"Okay, well that's good," I shrugged. "Do you guys want to adapt it at all? Maybe expand it a bit?" I went on to explain that we had historically only used it in a spiritual sense - We Are Doers of all those things we hear in church - "but in addition to that, we really do so much more. So, who do you guys think we are? Who are the Alders? What do we do?"
The next twenty minutes passed in a brainstorm as we ate the rest of our cheese fries and the end result was this list (in no particular order except the order that they came to our brains):
We do family
We do respect
We do obedience
We do gratitude
We do refuge
We do hard things
We do fun
We do happiness
We do the Word
We do progress
We do love
We do active
We do strength
We do scholarship
We do try
We do ALDER
Each of these has bullet points of examples, and it was a pretty beautiful thing to see inside my kids' brains and watch all these things tumble out and listen to all the reasons why they felt these fit as definitions for our family. The list still needs a bit of pruning and tweaking, but this first draft makes me feel happy all the way through.
With this list tucked away in a file on my phone (do things really get tucked away in a phone?) we continued our day of adventure by hitting an escape room.
It was their experience gift this year for Christmas, and it was a big, big hit.
We should have known it was going to be awesome when they gave us heavy duty knee pads and told us we'd need them to crawl through the tunnels.
We donned our vests and put ear pieces in our ears and embarked on a highly important mission to steal a vile of some very important liquid from a highly secured safe. We had real dart guns and drills and wires and cables and solved all the problems with ease. Pay no attention to the fact that everyone else in the picture below drew their guns for the photo while I drew my drill. I might not last very long in a real situation...
Here we are crawling under lasers.
And stealing the vile of liquid.
We had one hour to complete the mission before something terribly terrible was going to happen (I missed that part of the story), and we emerged after having cleaned up all of our mess with over 18 minutes to spare. The worker running our session seemed genuinely impressed and commended our ability to listen to directions (my specialty in life - I'm much better at doing what other people tell me to do rather than thinking for myself).
I think we need to add to our list:
We do escape rooms
Because that was fun - and it was awesome to watch my kids work together with us to solve puzzles.
Also awesome, backing into the garage with this staring me in the face.