A young friend and mother of two little boys posted this on Facebook today:
“Watching my boys play with their hot wheel cars equals a fun and priceless moment in time!!”
It always makes my heart glad when parents catch sight of a quintessential moment that captures the joy of children at play. Those instances can occur fairly frequently, but the demands of raising kids while trying to keep life fairly organized can throw a veil over the fun of living with small children.
My friend’s comment brought this long-ago event to mind:
One summer afternoon at our home, when our grandson, Devin was 7 yrs old, and his cousin, Ryan was 5, I observed a parent’s ability to discern when one of those happy childhood moments was facing a big challenge.
On this day, the weather was beautiful and all the nieces, nephews and grandkids were scattered outdoors making the most of the big backyard and wooded lot. The girls had been exploring our large vegetable garden, and went walking on the many trails that surrounded it. The boys, Ryan and Devin, had been busy manipulating deck chairs and other movable objects, arranging them to make a rocket ship and using an old blanket as a launching pad. This had been the focus of their play for a couple of hours.
Eventually it was time for a meal. Ryan’s dad went out on the deck and called all the kids into the house to wash their hands and eat. Immediately, Ryan ran up to his dad and said, “Wait Dad, please wait! Devin and I are just about to blast off!”
“Oh,Oh,” I thought. “Houston, we have a problem.” I had been watching the boys, and knew this play time had been an especially exciting afternoon for them. I wondered what would happen now, since there was a distinct possibility that their plans to fly into outer space would be scrubbed.
His dad looked intently at Ryan for a few seconds and said,
“You’re just about to blast off?”
Ryan nodded his head vigorously.
“OK,” dad said, “I’ll give you boys 5 minutes to blast off. But then you have to land, come in, wash your hands and eat dinner.”
Ryan was completely satisfied with this answer, and ran down to the “rocket ship” to pass the good news to Devin. The mission had been saved! And to my mind, a “fun and priceless moment” in childhood had also been saved.
Looking back, I can see what wise a decision Ryan’s dad made. Wish I would have thought to say this at the time: “Houston, we have a solution.”