Sunday, September 27, 2009

Family Time -- The Ties that Bind (But Don't Gag)

Tiny Girl was scheduled to ride in a barn show yesterday, but it was postponed due to rain (which, incidentally, did not come until the afternoon, well past the end time of the show). To ease the disappointment, we let her choose an alternate activity, and she chose bowling. Every member of my family enjoys bowling -- Tiny Girl even had a bowling birthday party in first grade. Back in the day, Dh won Best Bowler on the Planet, or some such championship, so he is fairly excellent. I, on the other hand, just get by. I bowled a few strikes and spares yesterday, and one of Dh's comments was, "Way to use the bumper!" Yes, we bowl with the gutter bumpers in place; otherwise, a high percentage of the girls' and my (what noun to use? shots? flings? bowls??) balls would end up in the gutter. What fun would that be?

Yesterday, just after we began our fifth game, it was time for Cosmic Bowling at the bowling alley. In case you are part of the uninitiated, as I was until yesterday, in Cosmic Bowling they turn off most of the overhead lights, fire up the black lights and disco balls, and let loose the fog machine. The girls think it is fabulous. In fact, you really haven't lived until you've tried Cosmic Bowling.

On the way home, I ran into Target to pick up a few things while the family waited in the car. The check-out clerk was a college-aged guy. When he asked how my day was going, I told him about our bowling trip. He said it sounded like a blast. Then he said, "My family and I aren't really close. We never did things like that when I was growing up."

I've been thinking about that ever since. As homeschoolers, our family is blessed to be able to spend more time together than many families we know. But even so, we make a point to do other things together: play games, read aloud to each other, and bowl, to name a few. I don't think I've ever made a conscious decision to do those kinds of things, though. That's the way I was raised, so that's what I do in my own family. Activities we do with the purpose of being together (not just at the same event -- like a soccer game) are what cement us together.

I know there's been the debate between quality time versus quantity time raging for many years now. For busy folks, it's tempting to side with the quality-time camp, the "it's-not-how-much-you-do-together-it's-the-quality-of-that-time-that-counts" position. I'm all for quality; in fact, I like it a lot. On the other hand, though, it makes sense that the more time a family spends together, whether working on a household project or doing something fun, the stronger their bond will be.

Of course, this is not always sweetness and light. The more time you spend together, the more chances of "getting into each other's moustaches," as my dad used to say. I'd rather my girls be squabbling and then figuring out compromises than getting along famously because they rarely interact.

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