When my children were small, I used to rush home from whatever I was doing, and be greeted by little hands pawing for attention, and feet dancing around in circles, dizzy with anticipation. Playtime would be a tangle of limbs, and a chorus of laughter and giggles, curious fingers padding a receding hairline, and soft whispers into my ear from little voices that wanted my attention, and mine only. It was hard because all five would be there wanting something, in their own kind of way. It was impossible for me to meet the demands, but I had fun trying!
I love this picture of my son with his first child, Emme. Their dog Bailey is a perfect temperament for a start up family. Tender, curious, always offering licks and wet nudges. She’s had her day in the sun, a sovereign rule over affection and attention, which now has ended with the advent of Emme. She’s out of sorts, but it will pass.
KJ has a way with dogs, something I didn’t know until Bailey came around, but also with children. Notice his fingers on both hands. He’s touching his daughter’s hand so softly, while scratching Bailey’s ears! How can he do both? He’s already exceeded this old man’s talents.
Playtime. It’s a special world where touch, hugs, giggles, coo’s and ‘oops,’ can be heard. Humans (and dogs) need a lot of it. Touch, I mean. We are created for touch, and light up like a pinball machine when approached with affection and focus. The signals sent to the brain release endorphin tsunami ripples that build trust, and release tension, and suddenly clarify all of life. When I used to give buckaroo rides to the kids, hear their free laughter, and feel their jostling boney behinds on my back, it would remind me of a story I once read. A powerful Prime Minister would give similar rides to his own children. One day his assistant showed up unannounced at the great house, opened the door, and saw the Prime Minister in the foyer, on all fours with a kid on his back; and the caption simply read, “the children are free and fearless in the house.” That’s what children become when a father gets down on the level of their eyes, and defers compulsion, deadline, curfew or care, and simply dissolves in love.
Sit for a moment, and think about playtime. We all need it every day, to keep a kind of sanity in focus. Every day we can experience it with our heavenly father, whose heart has gotten down to our level, has touched us, has sacrificed supremely so that laughter can erupt from our tired, aching, disillusioned hearts, to be captured by love. Bouncing on his back, we are free and fearless in the house!
“‘Daddy’s home, daddy’s home, I hear him coming now,’
The children squealed, ‘He’s coming up the path,’
‘Tired, hungry, brooding and beguiled,
I have him in my grasp”- a demon’s wrath.
‘Daddy, daddy, you’re here, you’re here, can we play a game?’
Hands tugging at his legs and arms.
“You deserve to read, relax, enjoy some space,’ the demon prods.
“It will do no harm.”
‘Daddy, daddy see my work, Mommy said I was good today,’
The child beamed so wide.
“Are you a slave, or your own free man, you decide your fate good man,”
The demon lies.
Standing in the foyer, arms and legs and mind all numb,
The father saw into the souls of his,
And bent to touch their brows.
He knelt to scoop the littlest one,
From the floor where stretching arms,
Sought to gain his height and kisses,
Or be left forlorn.
On both sides, the older ones nuzzled and abiding,
Hugged and talked and clamored so,
It was a chaotic glorious moment,
And the reason he was born.
To the voice that demanded self be true,
He shouted in his soul,
‘Be gone you vile and deceitful imp.”
He had to go, no other way,
For a man had seen the threat,
And evicted it that day.
And for long into the tired night,
The house was filled with happy cries and bounding steps.
The man gave so many rides that day,
His knees ached the next,
But when he felt them, he smiled to understand.
It’s part of a bigger plan,
So children can trust the one who lifts them high,
And enjoy a father’s heart,
Whose pride and joy have been set to right’s.