Wow - that was quick! It is Conference time again. It must be a function of age, but it seems like we just had it six months ago. Last Fall I wrote a post about taking notes to get more out of Conference, and many of you responded positively. I was surprised to see my terrible handwriting pinned on Pinterest. (Here is that post.)
Last year we attended at the Conference Center, and it was a great experience. But the thing that stands out most to me was not a specific talk - and there were many great ones, it was not any of the music - and it was all glorious, it was the Pepto-Bismol flavored dresses that the choir sisters wore.
Just kidding! That was my second favorite thing. My favorite thing was watching the youngest FOML as he dug in and participated in Conference. Let me tell you about him. He is the last of 5 FOMLs. He is the last of 4 boys. He came 5 years later than the next oldest - he is the proverbial "caboose". We like to refer to him a "dessert", because he is so sweet, and the perfect way to finish up. He loves to read, and is quite verbal. (Which is code for "he talks a lot".)
The day before October Conference, we went down to the Lord's University to buy some cinnamon bears and watch BYU beat up on them Aggies. Again. It was lovely. While at the Bookstore, we asked the kids if any of them wanted a notebook to take notes for conference. My youngest was all over that, and he quickly picked out a spiral BYU notebook.
The next day, as we were sitting in the session, I looked over at him and saw him intently listening and writing. As I peaked, I was impressed by how well he was doing. He would listen, and write. This time was different - usually he would sit and copy what my EC was writing. This time, he was on his own.
This morning I asked him if he happened to know where his Conference notebook was from last fall - expecting him to say no. He was back in 15 seconds with his notebook - he already had it out for this weekend.
Did I mention that he just turned 10? Last fall, when he was 9.5, here is how he spent his Conference:
Yeah - I know. There's eight pages of it. Now I'm not showing this to you to brag about my future-Apostle son, but I think there is a point worth mentioning. Over the last couple of weeks we have talked about reverence, and often the comments have been more valuable than the posts. One thing that has come through to me is that a lot of times we don't expect a whole lot out of our children.
Much like my thoughts on reverence, I feel that too much cute stuff for the kids, like worksheets and coloring books etc., shift the focus of Conference to be about entertainment. Every family will vary, but some "Conference traditions" are so over-the-top that mom never hears a word of what is spoken, because she is bustling about providing crafts, food or entertainment. (Mary and Martha, anyone?) It is more important for Mom to get something out of Conference than it is to make Conference an event for the little kids.
Avoid: Knocking back a shot of root beer every time a speaker says "salvation". It is just plain distracting.
Granted, the younger the kids, the harder it is, and the more latitude given, but in our home, if you are old enough to make covenants, you are old enough to watch all of Conference. (When they were younger we focused more on making sure they were just quietly in the room, and more focused whenever the Prophet spoke.)
In case you didn't know - apparently there are Conference sessions on Saturday too! Twice a year. Unlike soccer games which are on Saturday 12 times a year - or twenty. You can teach your kids a lot about priorities on Conference Saturday.
Here are a couple of helps for post-baptism age kids.
1) Go to the dollar store, or Staples and let each kid pick out their own notebook, and maybe a pen. It can be worthwhile to spend more than a buck so it seems like this more than a one-shot deal. Some people like to use their journals for taking notes. Cool.
2) Be excited about Conference, and share your enthusiasm.
3) Put away the distractions - the games - he crafts - the worksheets etc. Turn off the phones.
4) Set an example. If you are cooking, Tweeting, or "Live-blogging" the event, you can't really expect your kids to pay attention either. Or the Spirit.
5) Stay awake. Nothing says "This is not important" like dad's snoring.
6) Remember, the DVR is inspired of God. Use the pause and rewind buttons as needed.
7) Look at your child's notes - and show him yours. Praise.
8) Expect more. You will be amazed at what they can do.
Have a wonderful weekend! I am eagerly awaiting one of the Brethren to discuss the inappropriateness of anonymous blogging.
Or to quote me. ;)