A weekly meeting keeps this family strong (and the trophy motivates the kids)
Who will win the Boone Family Child of the Week trophy this Sunday? Will it be eldest son Anthony Jr. for continuing to balance his studies with his hectic volleyball schedule? Or maybe Laurel for working hard to make friends at her new middle school? Or maybe Logan or Nigel for keeping their room clean, handily passing the random inspections — heralded by the cry of “Room check!” — their mother springs on them throughout the week? Whoever does win gets more than just bragging rights and a weeklong warm fuzzy. The winning child also gets treated to some of dad’s home cooking — perhaps his mythically tasty lasagna, his killer tacos or one of his legendary Boone Burgers. Of course, no matter who wins, everybody wins.
“We’re like a bootleg version of The Cosbys,” says Kasina Boone, the straight-talking matriarch of this blended family, aka The First Lady of Booneville. “We talk about everything at our meeting. We keep it real, we keep it funky, and we don’t sugar-coat anything.” She says the word anything with the heft and brio of a hallelujah — and, indeed, this Sunday-night huddle is as much a part of Boone family life as church. “It keeps the communication lines open between the kids and us, and ensures we’re all on the same page,” says father Anthony Sr. (Kasina, characteristically, is more colorful: “Anthony’s job is to keep Laurel off the pole, and my job is to keep us from being grandparents before we’re 40.”)
A family meeting sounds old-fashioned and maybe even a bit corny in our tech-addled age, but perhaps the old-fashionedness of it is exactly what works so well for the Boones. They realize that, as rapidly as the world is changing, we’re still the flawed, confused, love-hungry humans we’ve always been. (And if you think a family meeting is old-school, consider the Boone’s Saturday-night activities: giggling games of Uno and tie-dyeing T-shirts at the dining room table.)
The Sunday meeting whose abiding directive is “speak freely” has a few ground rules: No cussing and no piggybacking or “co-signing” on siblings’ issues or complaints, so as to encourage each child to own and articulate his or her own concerns. The meetings grew out of the process of blending their families when Anthony Sr. and Kasina married nearly ten years ago, after meeting at Legacy High School, where they both work.
“She did things her way, and I did things my way, and we had to learn to do it our way. That’s where the meetings come in,” says Anthony Sr. At the weekly huddles, they’ve discussed 11-year-old Logan’s request to get a Facebook account. They’ve discussed Laurel’s reluctance to go to a new school. They’ve even brought up for review Anthony Jr.’s prospective girlfriends — one of whom Kasina warned him away from, to no avail. Anthony dated her until he discovered the girl was two-timing him. (“Do I know my stuff?” Kasina asks Anthony Jr. over a fist-bump.)
The result of these meetings is one very cohesive, communicative, loving family, but the side effects are interesting, too, one of which is the porousness of that very concept of family. “Our motto is if you come over here more than once, you’re family,” says Kasina. Exhibit A: the neighborhood kids floating through the house, hanging around the table, ready to tie-dye some shirts.
Perhaps the only downside of the Sunday meeting? It can be more tiring than an Uno marathon.
“I like the family meeting. Everybody gets to say what they want to say,” says Laurel. “After that, though, I usually have to take a nap.”