Friday, July 23, 2010


4 : a number of persons associated together in work or activity

Yesterday on our drive back from the lake, we were listening to a song from Glee.  It was a song from the second half of the season and as I sang along with it, I started thinking about one thing that made me enjoy this show:  its use of all cast members, not just the stars.  At the start of the season, there was a lot of focus on Finn, Rachel and Mr. Schuester.  But those characters simply laid the foundation for what was to come during the second half of the season:  solos by Quinn, Artie, Mercedes, Puck and other cast members that we had come to know.

The girls were talking in the back of the van and munching on snacks to satisfy their post-lake swimming, so I had some time to think about this.  I love that Glee isn't just about showcasing the great vocal talents of one or two actors.  Instead, it uses the strengths of the entire cast.  In fact, this was a key part of the plot from the first season: making a group of misfits more than a collection of individuals.  Making them into a team.

Great, but how can I apply this to my own life?  The most obvious "team" that I am a part of is my family and listening to Kurt hit the high notes in a Madonna song made me wonder how to help our family function better as a team.  For good or ill, my daughters are growing up.  They are developing their own preferences, their own interests, their own strengths.  So how do I help them use the skills, interest and gifts that they have to make our family work better as a team?

J and I are already a pretty good team.  There are things he's good at (managing the family finances) and things I'm good at (feeding our family), so we split those tasks according to our gifts.  Then there are things that neither of us are very good at (housecleaning, yard work), so we try to split those undesirable tasks fairly evenly.  We've done a good job of fulfilling the first half of the season:  we've laid the ground work for a family that works together, supports each other and has fun reaching a common goal.  But we don't want to be the stars who hog the spotlight in our family.

The second half of the season is fast approaching - and in some ways is already here.  What specific gifts do A, B and K have that can and should be used in the running of our family?  What gifts do they want to use in our family and what gifts are more appropriately used to serve those outside our family?  What family chores are J and I carrying that should be handed over to one of the girls - maybe not a chore that they will love to do, but one that needs to be done?  Because part of being on a team is doing not just what you're best at, but what needs most to be done.

Difficult questions.  I'm not sure I have a lot of answers.  I think homeschooling A next year will help me see and identify a few of her gifts that can be used within our family unit.  We plan to do a lot of cooking and baking together (practical math, my friends), so we may find this is something she wants more ownership of.  B is a great problem solver.  She's not bound by conventional thinking, so she can see new ways to get to a desired outcome.  What decisions does our family need to make where it might be helpful to hear B's ideas?  And K?  She's the youngest, at just six years old.  But her excitement about finishing our kitchen in order to have a party has made it clear that she is a natural hostess.  So I'll definitely incorporate her ideas and give her jobs relating to the "We Have a Kitchen!" Party (tentatively planned for Labor Day weekend, mark your calendars).

These are just my initial ideas, but I do want my daughters to begin to use their gifts in the safety of our family, so that they know how to best use their gifts.  I want them to use their voices in our family, so that they see the difference their voices can make.  I want them to feel equipped to excel in their positions on teams.  I want them to leave our home and enter the world seeing themselves not just as a part of the team that is our family, but the team that is the community, the church, the world at large.  No small task.

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