I always imagined that a "family rosary" would be a time of quiet reflection and orderly prayer right before bedtime.
Well, it does happen right before bedtime but the rest I don't think has ever been achieved.
To start, I should explain that we have six kids. Our oldest turned seven in March. Our youngest is 2 months. To avoid the armor piercing wail of a child saying "But ____ ALWAYS gets to go first. I NEVER get a turn!!!!" we have decided to have a favorite child. Every month we write the kids names on the calendar day by day in age order. Each day's "favorite" kid gets the "ravioli" spoon at meals, gets to pass out vitamins, choose a bedtime story and pick the first rosary for prayer time. All other kids go in age order after. So far, this has helped to keep a veneer of sanity in our house.
Rosary time starts out peacefully enough.
"Okay, kids, come get your rosaries."
"Susan, wait your turn." (Susan is 1 1/2)
"Susan, wait your turn."
"Susan, take the rosary out of your mouth and put it back on the table."
"Daddy, Magwet took the wosawee I wanted."
"When it's your turn you can pick first."
"Mommy, can I have the same rosary as Daddy?" (Two of our rosaries are the same. All the others are different. Six kids, two adults, Mommy and Daddy get whatever rosaries are left. You do the math.)
"You can if no one else picks the other wooden one."
"But someone always does." (Sits down with a pouting face.)
"Susan, take the rosary out of your mouth."
"Okay, tonight we are praying the 2nd Joyful Mystery - the Visitation." (We only can handle one decade a night.)
"Can anyone other than Lucy tell me what the Visitation is?"
"The Visitation is..."
"Can anyone OTHER than Lucy tell me what the Visitation is?"
"The Visitation is when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth." (Puts on a shy smile and usually starts laughing)
"Very good, Margaret."
(At this point Lucy, who reads as much as she breaths, will usually fill in any gaps in the explanation with a memorized exposition from a kids Bible.)
"Okay, In the Name of the Father - Susan take the rosary out of your mouth - and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
"Anne, what would you like to pray for tonight?"
"Ummm, fow Susan's teeff, fow Mommy, fow baby Benet (Benedict, my sister's son)." Anne is "fwee" and is sometimes very difficult to understand.
"Lucy, who do you want to pray for?"
"I want to pray for all the unborn babies and for Susan's teeth."
"Okay, only one of you has to mention Susan's teeth because we are all going to pray for everything you mention."
"Margaret, what do you want to pray for?"
"I want to pray for Susan's teeth, for Daddy and for selling our house."
"Susan, take the rosary out of your mouth and give it to me."
"Andrew, what do you want to pray for? We are already praying for Susan's teeth."
(Andrew stops rolling around on the floor for a minute to think.)
"I want to pway fow Susan's teeff, and fow Uncle Mike." (goes back to rolling around)
"Andrew, please sit on the couch."
"Alright, let's start."
"What bead are we on? Are we on this one? I can't find my wosawee. SUSAN GIVE ME BACK MY WOSAWEE! Anne, take the rosary off of your feet. Susan, put down the Mary statue. Can I pway the pupow beads?"
"Andrew, please stop bouncing on the couch."
"Susan, don't hit Peter."
"What bead are we on? Are we on this one? Anne, take the rosary off of your feet. Susan, put down the Mary statue. Susan, PUT DOWN THE MARY STATUE!"
"Aw we on dis bead?"
"Aw we on dis bead?"
"Anne, the rosary isn't a choker. I forgot, are we on 8 or nine?"
"Are you kids praying with us tonight? I can't hear any of you."
"Which bead aw we on?"
"We aren't on any bead. This is the end."
I keep telling myself that we are preparing the kids to get to heaven but right now it seems more like we are working on decreasing our purgatory time. At some point, probably a decade into the future, I think we will actually be able to pray an entire rosary together in a peaceful way. If I'm wrong, please don't let me know.