I had an agenda when I got home from work tonight.

Me and the kids were going to have a whole-hearted night.

So, after dinner I enacted the plan.  First, we practiced being still and silent.  We all laid down on the floor and, for one minute, tried to be still and silent.  It did not go well.  Round two was a little better.  Then Anna had the idea to shut the lights off.  Sam was already mad and said he hated what we were doing.  We tried it again.  “That time was WAY better!” Sam said.  Then he proceeded to explain to Anna and Clare that it’s important to give our minds and our bodies time to rest.

Then it was time for our dance party.

My goal was to get us to dance, sing and laugh together.  Mission accomplished.  “LOOK AT DADDY!” they all shouted, huge smiles on their faces.  We danced to Dynamite, Hey Soul Sister (Anna made a sign DURING the song that said “HEY!” on the front and “SISTER” on the back, in very swirly letters), Blow (Ke$ha) and The Jackson Five’s “ABC.”  Anna had the best moves by far.  She knows how to do the freaking robot.  Sam, on the other hand, really disliked the dancing part.  He hid in the cushions.  I’m giving him time and will continue to lead by example.

After the dance party, we made a gratitude list.

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Who's not grateful for toots?

I explained what gratitude meant and then we started listing things.  When I said Jesus, Anna frowned and said, “No fair! You have the BEST ideas, Daddy!”  After a while, I realized it was time for bed, but Sam wanted to play a game and Anna wanted to make puppets.  I told them we’ll save those ideas for another night.  That did not go over well.  They both melted down.  At that point, Claire said she was thankful for her brother and sister, “because I don’t like when they cry.”  Sweet girl.

Determined not to give-in, I suggested we watch a video about how paper is made.  Random, I know.  It did the trick, though.  We watched that, then one about how toilet paper is made and then one about gum.  The toilet paper one was the best.

After everyone got a shoulder ride upstairs and brushed teeth, we practiced being still and silent once more (and the girls showed me their yoga poses) and then we read a book.  In 2005, when Sam was only 1, I met Kevin Henkes and had him sign and dedicate the book Kitten’s First Full Moon to Sam.  So, tonight, when I got the book out, I told them how special it was and had Sam read the inscription, “To Sam, Best Wishes, Kevin Henkes.”  Sam’s face lit-up.  He read the whole book to the girls with gusto.  He’s really good at conveying the feelings with his voice.  Then we prayed together and Claire informed us all that God loves us “even when we’re mad and we snap (our fingers).”  Truth.

Then it was hugs and kisses and everybody in bed quietly.

Best. Night. Ever.

Ok, here’s why I’m sharing this with you: This is abnormal.  For me, at least.  Usually I come home from work and I’m tired and stressed and pissed off that everyone is BEING SO LOUD AND CRAZY AND EVERYBODY SIT ON SEPARATE COUCHES AND SHUT YOUR MOUTHS RIGHT NOW.  And then I feel like a jerk.  And then I mope and just wait for bedtime.  Blech.  That’s why I was determined to make tonight memorable.  And to begin something new.

It wasn’t easy.  Dinner was rough and I had my doubts that things would work.  Sam was kind of a grump, but I know I need to give him time.  He was uncomfortable and embarrassed and I totally get that.  But, I want him to feel safe and like he can cut-loose with us.  He’ll get there.  And then when the kids had their meltdown, I was thinking, “NO, DON’T RUIN THIS!”  All expected growing pains, I think.

And I owe most of this to Brené Brown, who suggested many of these ideas (dance, laugh, sing, be still and silent, practice gratitude) in her book The Gifts of Imperfection.  I’m telling you, this book changed me.  Tonight is proof.  It’s going to take a long time to work through everything, but, oh man…it’s worth it.

Tell about a whole-hearted experience you’ve had recently.