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When I saw this challenge, I thought to myself, "This will be cake. I'm around kids all day!" But as I considered it a bit more, I realized that the point of this whole initiative is to become more like Christ, to actually exact change in your life and the lives of others, not to check items off a list. So I decided that rather than just be a parent today, I would try to be actively involved with my girls, that I would focus on them, that I would listen when they were talking and be present when we were together.
The morning consisted of the usual mad rush to get ready for church. I'm well aware that there should not be a mad rush to get ready since our church doesn't start until 1:00, but there always is. We spend about an hour lazing about, and then we have to get everyone showered and dressed and fed so we can be out the door by 11:45 - choir practice starts at noon. We also have been involved with the stake choir, which means heading straight to the stake center from the church, practicing for 2 hours, and coming home by about 7:30. This means we have to pack a dinner to eat while we drive, another component of the morning routine. This is all to say, I didn't do a great job of focusing on my kids in the morning.
Then there was church, where I did take Ella to the bathroom once (we have lived here for 3 years, she can't be serious when she says she doesn't know where the bathroom is, so I had to roll my eyes at that one), but other than that I didn't really see my kids. I played the organ for Sacrament Meeting, then they headed off to their classes for Primary. I didn't really focus on them, now did I?
I really tried to be present on the ride over to the stake center, but between the heavy snow distracting me and being the food dispenser, I'm not sure I was entirely successful. And during choir practice itself, the girls are left to their own devices while we sing. Again, more time spent without paying attention to my children.
But then, in the middle of choir practice, Ella made her way to the choir seats and with tears in her eyes explained that she had lost her hair clip. My first thought was, "Dang it." My second thought was, "This is where you show her she is more important than choir practice. Go look for it."
So I did. We walked up and down the halls of the building, tracing her every step. We looked in the bathroom. We looked on the stage. We looked by the drinking fountain. No luck. I put on my coat and looked for that white flower clip in the snow up and down the sidewalks. No luck. I spent a good 15 minutes looking for that clip. I didn't find it, but I could tell that Ella was heartened that I would try. In the end, I told her it was possible it was in the car (I didn't have the keys on me), or it was in our church building. I promised her I would go look for it the next day.
In the end it was in the car, we found it on our way home, but the location of the clip is not really the important part of the story. The important part is this: I found a way to show my child that she is more important than all the other things I have going on. Even when what she needs is a fruitless search for an inexpensive hair clip, that takes precedence over all my other commitments. I often tell my girls that they are the most important things in my life, but it means so much more when I have the opportunity to show them I mean it.